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galaxy 

SCIENCE FICTION 



FEBRUARY 1958 

35< 



BREAD 

OVERHEAD! 

By 

FRITZ 

LEIBER 

• 

GRAVEYARD 
OF DREAMS 

By 

H. BEAM 

PIPER 

• 

THE RULE 
OF THE DOOR 

By 

LLOYD 

BIGGLE, jR. 

• 

A CENTURY OF 
NEW ANIMALS 

By 

WILLY 

LEY 

and Other Stories 





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YVTRITES Mrs. Owen Libby, 
Chicago: “Years ago, you had 
an editorial on toys. My dad 
showed it to me so I’d know what 
to expect with my baby son. I 
thought it was hilarious! But now 
that the child — well, it’s no laugh- 
ing matter, let me tell you. A 
lot of new parents badly need that 
editorial for perspective. Why not 
run it again for the poor things?” 
Gladly, Mrs. Libby. 

Never have there been so many 
toys, play costumes and amuse- 
ments for children. It’s an alarm- 
ing situation. The lessons of his- 
tory should help, but they don’t. 
No generation has yet known how 
to cope with the problem. 

But we can try. Let’s (as) ra- 
tionally (as possible) scrounge 
around in the past in order to 
understand the present and antici- 
pate the headaches our kids will 
have with their own kids. 

No matter how far back we go, 
the pattern remains identical: 
Parents invariably give their 
children more toys and games than 
they had when they were young- 
sters. The children then have (at 
least it seems so to parents) every- 
thing to play with and nothing to 
play. The plaintive “What should 



I do now?” brings forth the out- 
raged “Why, when I was your 
age-” 

What comes after that forms 
an oral record of the human race: 
“—we didn’t have wooden 
wheels to play with, just fire.” 
“—I wasn’t allowed to have any 
shrunken heads until I was old 
enough to go out and hunt for 
them.” 

“—I wouldn’t even dare ask for 
a slave of my own.” 

“—we didn’t have bows—” 
“—arquebuses—” 

“—ducking stools—” 
“—stagecoaches—” 

“—railroad trains—” 
“—airplanes—” 

And now it’s all the parapher- 
nalia in miniature of the Old West, 
crime, war, Atomic Age, space. 

Very few adults have ever been 
able to resist delivering the 
why-when-I-was-your-age lecture. 
Having done my own share, I won- 
der what drives us to it. Exaspera- 
tion, of course, but mostly envy 
camouflaged by recollections of 
deprivation bravely borne. 

The deprivation is obviously in 
the present, since one does not feel 
deprived of something that doesn’t 
( Continued on page 6 ) 



4 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



FEBRUARY, 1958 


VOL. 


15, NO. 4 


galaxy 




SCIENCE FICTION 




ALL ORIGINAL STORIES 


• NO REPRINTS! 


CONTENTS 




NOVELETS 






THE RULE OF THE DOOR 


by Lloyd Biggie, Jr. 


8 


BREAD OVERHEAD 


by Fritz Leiber 


74 


GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 


by H. Beam Piper 


122 


SHORT STORIES 






THE BIG BOUNCE 


by Walter S. Tevis 


37 


THE REPAIRMAN 


by Harry Harrison 


60 


THE BLUE TOWER 


by Evelyn E. Smith 


90 


TRADERS RISK 


by Roger Dee 


108 


SCIENCE DEPARTMENT 






FOR YOUR INFORMATION .... 


by Willy Ley 


47 


A Century of New Animals 




FEATURES 






EDITOR'S PAGE 


by H. L. Gold 


4 


FORECAST 




73 


GALAXY'S FIVE STAR SHELF 


by Floyd C. Gale 


104 


Cover by PEDERSON Showing TRAFFIC JAM ON RHEA 




ROBERT M. GUINN, Publisher 


H. L. 


GOLD, Editor 


WILLY LEY, Science Editor 


W. 1. VAN DER POEL, Art Director 


JOAN J. De MARIO, Production Manager 


SONDRA GRESEN, Asst 


to the Editor 


GALAXY Science Fiction is published monthly by Galaxy Publishing Corporation. Main offices: 
421 Hudson Street, New York 14, N. Y. 35c per copy. Subscription: (12 copies) $3.50 per 
year in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South and Central America and U. S. Possessions. 
Elsewhere $4.50. Entered as second-class matter at the Post Office, New York, N. Y. Copyright, 
New York 1957, by Galaxy Publishing Corporation, Robert M. Guinn, president. All rights, includ- 
ing translations reserved. All material submitted must be accompanied by self-addressed stamped 
envelopes. The publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. All stories printed in 
this magazine are fiction, and any similarity between characters and actual persons is coincidental. 


Printed in the U.S.A. by The Guinn Co., Inc., N. Y. 


Title Reg. U.S. Pat. Off. 




( Continued from page 4 ) 
yet exist. We had our soapbox 
cars and other makeshift toys, in- 
cluding discarded eggbeaters and 
such from the kitchen, and we 
never suspected or missed the daz- 
zlesome gadgets of today. Even 
if we had, though, we’d have kept 
it to ourselves; we’d only have 
been inviting still more tiresome 
reminders of how much harder 
our elders’ childhoods were than 
ours. 

Envy seems a mean emotion 
for an adult to have, but it 
shouldn’t need an apology. Older 
generations did have less in their 
youth and, contrasting it with the 
next generation’s engorgement, 
they couldn’t possibly see how a 
child could own so many things 
and not know what to play with. 

Naturally, we’ve outgrown the 
desire for toys, but here is the 
blunt truth — we wish we’d had 
them as children. That envy is 
very visible to me in the case of 
science fiction. I recall digging dog- 
gedly for it along the bookshelves 
of public libraries; there was hard- 
ly any and that bit hidden well 
among general titles. Instead of 
having to hunt, children now have 
to dodge. 

What with toys, books, maga- 
zines, comics, radio, TV, movies 
and princely allowances, it does 
seem as if we have more to envy 
than any previous generation. 

But what will our kids face? 



The thought that they’ll tell their 
youngsters how little they had to 
play with may seem preposterous, 
but is it? 

Toys are an excellent index to 
a civilization; they’re non-func- 
tioning replicas of devices in com- 
mon use— as a rule. The excep- 
tion, of course, is the element of 
fantasy in play and playthings. If 
an alien race tried to analyz^ our 
civilization via toys and books, it 
would have to conclude that we 
are gunmen and have space 
travel. 

As technology advances and the 
number of gadgets increases, so 
must playthings become more nu- 
merous and complex. It would be 
absurd to expect one without the 
other. 

What will our grandchildren 
play with? To know that, you’d 
have to be able to outguess prog- 
ress. But you may be sure that 
toys will at the very least keep 
abreast of science. 

Now add the certainty that we’ll 
reach other planets within a single 
generation. Lord knows what we’ll 
find there in the way of artifacts, 
pets and plants. But whatever we 
find, the kids of that day will have 
either as imports or imitations. 

I feel sorry in advance for their 
parents, who’ll yelp in vexation, 
“A whole solar menagerie and you 
don’t know what to play with? 
Why, when I was your age—” 

— H. L. GOLD 



6 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



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If nobody up there 
liked the barbaric natives 
of this backward little planet . . . 

why couldn't Skarn 
come to prey 
and at least stay to scoff? 




THE RULE 



P ROFESSOR Skarn Sku- 
karn twisted abruptly on 
the soft expanse of his bed 
and sat up. A glance at the pink- 
tinted indicator told him that the 
Time of Sleep was no more than 
half expired. He stretched himself, 
yawned and rubbed his eyes. 

“Strange,” he murmured. “Per- 
haps it was that sliff I had for din- 
ner.” 

He immediately rejected this 
idea as an assumption unworthy of 
a distinguished psychologist and 
padded softly into his laboratory. 
His lecture notes lay stacked neatly 
on his desk. He thumbed through 
the metallic sheets, mildly surprised 
that he felt no trace of fatigue. His 
mind was alert; his ideas flowed 
with sparkling clarity. He stood for 
a moment, looking thoughtfully at 
his notes, and then he slipped into 
his flowing professorial robes and 
mounted the lectern which stood in 
all its imposing grandeur in one 

Illustrated by WOOD 




8 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



OFTHEDOOR By lloyd biggle, jr. 




THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



9 




corner of the laboratory. He pressed 
a button and waited. 

Throughout the length and 
breadth of the great university city 
of Kuln, he knew, oaths and screams 
of dismay would be curdling the 
air as hundreds of students were 
tumbled from their beds by their 
tingling wrist bands. They would 
scramble for their viewers, asking 
themselves, “What’s the old fool 
up to now?” 

The thought pleased him. He 
was not cruel like some of his col- 
leagues, who took fiendish delight 
in tormenting their students during 
the Time of Sleep. Never in his 
long academic career had he im- 
posed upon his students. But it 
might be an interesting psychologi- 
cal experiment, he told himself, to 
see how much knowledge a sleep- 
fogged mind could absorb. He 
would deliver one of his more diffi- 
cult lectures and follow it imme- 
diately with an examination. If the 
results were interesting enough, he 
would make some comparative ex- 
periments and perhaps collect 
enough data for a book. 

He waited the minimum time 
which custom allowed him, and be- 
gan. “Lecture nine hundred seventy- 
two. The effect of radiation im- 
pulses on motor pathways of the 
subconscious.” 

He hesitated. His own wrist band 
tingled sharply, almost painfully. 
With a sudden rush of panic, he 
understood what it was that had 



awakened him. He bounded away, 
scrambled back to the lectern to 
announce, “To be continued,” 
pressed the cancellation button and 
hurried off to his own viewer. 

The face that stared out at him 
was drawn and haggard. It was the 
Prime Minister, and Skarn could 
easily guess who it was that had 
disturbed his sleep. The Prime Min- 
ister scowled and said enviously, 
“You are looking well, Skarn.” 
“Likewise,” Skarn said politely. 
'I am not looking well. I am 
looking miserable. I’m tired.” 
“Naturally,” Skarn agreed. 

“An Imperial Assignment. You 
will begin immediately.” 

CKARN clucked his tongue joy- 
^ fully. Such an honor did not 
come more than two or three times 
in the entire span of living. “I shall 
serve eagerly,” he said. “May I in- 
quire ...” 

“You may,” said the Prime Min- 
ister. “A patrol ship has discovered 
another inhabited planet. His Im- 
perial Majesty desires a specimen 
of the dominant life-form for the 
Royal Collection.” 

Skarn stirred uneasily and a blu- 
ish flush of irritation tinged the 
smooth white flesh of his face. “I 
am no pickier of lizards,” he 
growled. 

“That you are not,” the Prime 
Minister acknowledged. 

“May I inquire . . .” 

“You may. The dominant life- 



10 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



form on the planet is intelligent.” 
“I still fail to comprehend why a 
psychologist . . .” 

“The Rule of the Door applies.” 
Skarn scratched his bald head 
thoughtfully and hoped he was not 
making a fool of himself. “That 
Rule is unfamiliar to me,” he ad- 
mitted. “May I inquire . . .” 

“You may. The Rule of the Door 
was propounded by the Great Kom 
when an Imperial Ancestor of His 
Imperial Majesty desired a speci- 
men of an intelligent life-form.” 
Skarn bowed deeply at the men- 
tion of the venerable psychologist 
of psychologists. “It is no doubt an 
excellent Rule.” 

“It has been canonized, along 
with the other magnificent Rules 
propounded by the Great Kom. 
However, this being only the sec- 
ond time in countless glims that an 
Imperial Majesty has requested an 
intelligent specimen, the Rule has 
not been much used.” 

“Naturally,” Skarn said. 

“In fact, the Rule is no longer in- 
cluded in the Canon of Rules. Were 
it not for the superb memory of 
His Imperial Majesty’s Prime Min- 
ister, the Rule would not have been 
followed at this crisis.” 

“You are to be congratulated.” 
“His Imperial Majesty has al- 
ready done so.” 

Skarn waited expectantly, and 
when the Prime Minister volun- 
teered no more information, he be- 
gan, “May I inquire . . .” 



“You may. The content of the 
Rule has been lost.” 

“In my most respectful opinion, 
the Rule can then be followed only 
with extreme difficulty.” 

“His Imperial Majesty does not 
minimize the difficulty. It was this 
problem that caused him to sum- 
mon such a distinguished psycholo- 
gist as yourself. At my suggestion, 
of course. Your task is to rediscover 
the content of the Rule of the Door, 
to follow it scrupulously, and to 
obtain for His Imperial Majesty the 
desired specimen.” 

Skarn bowed. “I shall direct all 
of my humble talent to the task.” 
“Naturally,” the Prime Minister 
said. “You will, of course, be granted 
an unlimited expense account.” 
“Naturally. I shall also require 
unlimited time.” 

“Naturally.” 

“I shall also,” Skarn said, licking 
his lips in anticipation, “require 
Imperial permission to search the 
Sacred Archives.” 

“Naturally. I shall expect your 
presence at the Imperial Palace 
immediately.” 

The viewer darkened. Skarn 
manipulated the dials, saw the blue 
acceptance light flash, and stepped 
through to the Imperial Palace. 

D URING three Times of Sleep, 
Skarn prowled the Sacred 
Archives. He sifted rapidly through 
pile after pile of metallic sheets. 
He found the lost Theorems of 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



11 



Wukim. He came upon the legen- 
dary Speculations of Kakang. And 
finally, in a damp corner, he dis- 
covered a stack of sheets as tall as 
himself which were the notebooks 
of the Great Kom. 

Duty and curiosity struggled 
briefly in his mind, until he effected 
a deft psychological compromise. 
He read through the notebooks with 
reverent care, but only until he 
found the Rule of the Door. No fur- 
ther. He carried two of the sheets 
to have impressions made, sadly 
returned the originals to the Sacred 
Archives, and sought out the Prime 
Minister. 

“I have found the content of the 
Rule of the Door,” he announced. 

“Excellent. Your name shall ap- 
pear high on the next achievement 
citations. What is the content?” 

Skarn bowed. “I do not entirely 
understand it, but this much is ap- 
parent: the Rule of the Door con- 
sists of — a Door. Here. I have im- 
pressions of the notes of the Great 
Kom.” 

The Prime Minister squinted at 
the ancient script. “It is a fitting 
tribute to the logic of the Great 
Kom that the Rule of the Door 
should consist of a Door. You can 
read this?” 

“Much of it is clear to me,” Skarn 
admitted cautiously. 

“I see. And the diagram. Now 
this would be an ancient model of 
a matter transmitter.” 

“Naturally. And this, you see, is 



the Door. The desired specimen 
steps through the Door and is im- 
mediately transmitted — perhaps to 
a self-sealing specimen bottle.” 

“The Door appears to be strange- 
ly complicated.” 

“Naturally. It involves, you see, 
a thought-wave analyzer and a sub- 
consciousness prober. This would 
be an ancient model of a personality 
computer. The other instruments 
are strange to me. But here — this 
would be the central data computer, 
which makes the final decision.” 

“Amazing.” 

“In his inestimable wisdom, the 
Great Kom realized that the disrup- 
tion of the life process of an intelli- 
gent being was not a project to be 
undertaken impulsively. He formu- 
lated a series of maxims, you see. 
‘Spare the humble one, for his na- 
ture is sublime. Spare the wise one, 
for his nature is rare. Spare the 
one who loves others more than 
himself, for love is the ultimate 
meaning of life. Spare the head of a 
family, for his loss would injure 
many. Spare the weak one, for his 
weakness renders him harmless. 
Spare the generous one, for his acts 
merit kindness? There is much 
more. Some of it I do not under- 
stand.” 

“The Rule of the Door must be 
extremely difficult to apply,” the 
Prime Minister mused. 

“Praise be to the Great Kom, we 
do not have to apply the Rule. We 
have only to build the Door, and 



12 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



the Door will select a proper speci- 
men for His Imperial Majesty.” 

The Prime Minister clapped his 
hands. “Excellent! You will proceed 
at once to this planet and build the 
Door.” 

1 1 ^HE citizens of Centertown, In- 
diana, were agog with excite- 
ment. A veritable mansion was 
being erected on the outskirts of 
their fair community. The owner 
was, it was said, a retired Texas oil 
millionaire. Or a maharaja who had 
escaped from his irate subjects with 
a fortune and a few paltry dozen of 
his wives and was settling in In- 
diana. Or a wealthy manufacturer 
who was going to develop their 
town into a sprawling metropolis. 

Whoever he was, he was in a 
hurry. Centertown was sorely taxed 
to supply the necessary labor force. 
Men were imported from Terre 
Haute, and a Terre Haute contrac- 
tor put in a winding asphalt drive 
through the trees to the top of the 
wooded hill where the house was 
taking shape. On Sunday after- 
noons, the population turned out 
en masse to inspect and comment 
on the week’s progress. 

As the mansion neared comple- 
tion, the general reaction was one of 
disappointment. It was large but 
not spectacular. Its architecture was 
conservative. Several of Center- 
town’s moderately wealthy boasted 
more elaborate dwellings. 

But the inside — ah, there was 



something to talk about! The good * 
citizens of Centertown hung eagerly 
on the words of the carpenters who 
described it. There was no base- 
ment, and except for a lavatory and 
a small utilities room, most of the 
first floor was a vast living room. 
And the owner had a positive mania 
for closets and doors. 

Along one entire wall of that spa- 
cious living room were closets, large, 
windowless closets. The doors were 
structural monostrosities, fully two 
feet thick, which functioned strange- 
ly and were hung with an odd type 
of hinge no one had ever heard of. 
And the doors opened inward. Who 
ever heard of a closet with a door 
that opened inward? There were 
eleven of these closets, and the cen- 
ter closet was left unfinished and 
doorless. 

Clearly, this new resident of Cen- 
tertown was a most peculiar person. 

If the workmen were to be believed, 
he even looked peculiar. And the 
painters, returning from putting the 
finishing touches on the living room, 
added another element of mystery. 
Overnight, a door had been placed 
on the central closet. A locked door. 

CKARN SKUKARN, Jonathan 
^ Skarn to the people of Center- 
town, took up his residence in the 
new house on a crisp fall day and 
led a newly arrived, shivering as- 
sistant on a tour of inspection. Skarn 
was less than pleased with his as- 
sistant. The squat, ill-tempered 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



13 



Dork Diffack was grumpy, insulting 
and generally obnoxious. He was 
also treacherous. Skarn knew that 
Dork would be immensely pleased 
if the Assignment ended in failure, 
since the disgrace would be Skarn’s. 

He also knew that he could not 
fail, praise be to the Great Kom. 

Dork snorted disdainfully and 
turned back toward the house. 
“Abominable climate,” he growled. 
“And these barbarians — I must ad- 
mit they have intelligence, since 
they have a civilization of sorts, but 
it can’t be much intelligence.” 
“Nevertheless,” Skarn said, “they 
are intelligent, so the Rule of the 
Door must apply.” 

“Intolerable nonsense. Why go to 
all this bother and expense to col- 
lect a specimen? Why not just pack 
one off and have done with it? 
There are enough of the creatures 
running around here.” Dork glanced 
back toward the highway, where 
several cars were parked, their oc- 
cupants staring at the house. “The 
patrol captain could have done it,” 
he went on. “It’s a pretty mess when 
men of our distinction have to go 
chasing around the Galaxy just to 
satisfy old Kegor’s whims about his 
Biological Museum.” 

“His Imperial Majesty,” Skarn 
said sternly, “does not have whims.”' 
Dork, being a native of the out- 
lying planet of Huzz, was given to 
displaying a lack of respect for His 
Imperial Majesty. He also dis- 
played a lack of respect for Skarn 



— motivated, of course, by jealousy 
over the fact that Skarn’s professor- 
ship at the Royal University was 
vastly superior to the one Dork held 
on Huzz. Dork was competent 
enough, though, in his way, and 
praise be to the Great Kom, the 
Assignment shouldn’t take long. 

“I never heard of this Rule of 
the Door on Huzz,” Dork said. 

“It seems to be unknown to the 
outlying planets,” Skarn replied. 
“But then there had been no rea- 
son for its use for so long that it 
was almost forgotten even on the 
Mother Planet. It seems to have 
been invoked only once, and that 
during the Great Korn’s lifetime.” 

r J^HEY entered the house and 
crossed the expanse of living 
room. Dork gave the Door a disre- 
spectful kick. “Built precisely to the 
Great Korn’s specifications, I sup- 
pose.” 

“Precisely,” Skarn said. 

“Well, you said the servants will 
be here tomorrow. Maybe one of 
them will blunder through it and 
then we can go home.” 

Skarn smiled. “It is not quite that 
simple. The qualifications are rather 
restrictive, you know.” 

“I have read the content of the 
Rule,” Dork said haughtily. “Do 
you imagine for one moment that 
these barbarians possess such quali- 
ties as love and wisdom and gener- 
osity?” 

“Yes,” said Skarn. “Yes, I do.” 



14 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



“Anyway, that’s, not our prob- 
lem. The Door will decide.” 

“True,” Skarn said. “But there is 
a problem. The Great Kom de- 
signed the Door for the inhabitants 
of a world that is unknown to us. 
These — ah — barbarians may have 
an entirely different mental make- 
<up. That would mean that we would 
have to adapt the Door to them, and 
I must confess that I don’t see how 
to go about it. Some of the mechan- 
ism is exceedingly strange.” 

“How do you know the Great 
Kom did not design the Door for 
the inhabitants of this world?” 
Skarn blinked. “I suppose that is 
possible. I hadn’t thought of it.” 
“Everything else is arranged?” 
“Completely. We have only to 
throw the activating switch. The 
relay stations are set up and op- 
erating. Once the Door accepts a 
specimen, it is immediately trans- 
mitted all the way to the Royal 
Museum. It is sealed into a speci- 
men bottle before it knows what’s 
happened, and that’s the end of it.” 
“How do you propose to go about 
adapting the Door?” 

Skarn got out a package of ciga- 
rettes, fumbled awkwardly with a 
cigarette lighter and got one lit. He 
took a deep puff and went into a 
fit of coughing. Dork glared at him 
disdainfully, and Skarn ignored 
him. He found the taste abominable 
and the effect on his throat dis- 
tressing, but the idea of blowing 
smoke from his mouth and nose in- 



trigued him. He had seen a carpen- 
ter blowing smoke rings and he was 
determined to acquire that skill 
himself. He would acquire it, even 
if he had to transport a quantity of 
these odd objects back to the Royal 
University and spend the rest of his 
life span practicing. 

“I don’t know that the Door will 
have to be adapted,” he said. “I 
only acknowledge that possibility. 
We must expose the Door to a large 
number of these creatures and study 
the reactions of the instruments. If 
the instruments react normally, we 
should be able to proceed. If not, 
perhaps suitable adjustments will 
occur to us.” 

Dork sneered. “And I suppose 
these creatures will willingly pre- 
sent themselves to us for study. We 
have only to issue an invitation and 
they will come and form a line in 
front of the Door.” 

"Something like that,” Skarn 
agreed. “We merely announce an 
odd ceremony which these natives 
call ‘open house.’ It seems to be a 
well-established custom. I under- 
stand that a great many natives will 
respond eagerly.” 

“I suppose there’s no harm in try- 
ing it,” Dork said, a bit grudgingly. 

J ONATHAN SKARN’S open 
house was a tremendous social 
success. The entire population of 
Centertown and the surrounding 
territory attended. The wooded hill 
was packed with cars, the highway 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



15 



was lined with parked cars, and the 
State Police had to call in reinforce- 
ments to keep the traffic moving. 

Jonathan Skarn, eccentric old 
gentleman that he was, stationed 
himself in the front yard, greeted 
all the visitors warmly, and told 
them to go right in and make them- 
selves at home. This they did, and 
after a rapacious assault on the 
heavily laden refreshment tables, 
they swarmed through the house. 

Without exception, they emerged 
disappointed. The door to the up- 
stairs was kept locked. The utilities 
room and the lavatory were, after 
all, just a utilities room and a lava- 
tory. And the living room, for all 
its unusual size and expensive fur- 
nishings, was not, as a bright high 
school student remarked, anything 
to write home about. 

Since the quaint Mr. Skarn 
remained outside, and since the 
servants were busily engaged in 
supplying the refreshment tables — 
without, however, neglecting to 
keep the upstairs door locked — the 
guests pried into all of the strange, 
empty closets, marveled at the thick 
doors, and congregated in large 
numbers around the center door 
that looked exactly like the others, 
but refused to open. 

PSTAIRS in the laboratory, 
Dork disgustedly watched 
their antics in a viewer, and kept a 
sharp eye on his busily recording 
instruments. 



And at the end of the day, 
he announced to Skarn that they 
had collected sufficient data. 

The last of the guests had de- 
parted, the servants had restored a 
semblance of order to the house and 
wearily headed homeward, and 
Skarn and Dork relaxed on has- 
socks in the laboratory and studied 
the information which drifted slow- 
ly across a wall screen. 

“These creatures are little more 
than animals,” Dork declared. “But 
then we might expect that, from 
their hideous patches of hair, and 
their odors, and the fact that they 
occasionally kill one another, indi- 
vidually or collectively. They hate, 
they are dominated by greed and 
jealousy, and I’d say they’re totally 
lacking in wisdom. Most of all, they 
lust. It’s thoroughly obnoxious. I 
didn’t find a single creature that the 
Door would reject.” 

Skarn was attempting to smoke 
a cigar. The natural bluish tint to 
his face had deepened to a violent 
purple and he felt ill. He coughed 
out a cloud of smoke and regarded 
the cigar warily. 

“Then our task should be a 
simple one,” he said. 

“You,” Dork exclaimed, “are 
fully as disgusting as these natives! 
Must you do that?” 

“It is important that we under- 
stand the ways of these creatures,” 
Skarn said complacently. 

“Surely we can understand with- 
out degrading ourselves!” 




16 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



^KARN deposited the cigar in 
^ an ashtray. A touch of a button 
and it disappeared. The apparent 
ingenuity of the device, and its basic 
crudeness, delighted him. 

“Whatever else these creatures 
may be,” he said, “they are not 
simple.” He reached for another 
cigar. 

“I tested the Door this morning 
with the servants,” said Dork. 

Skarn whirled about quickly and 
dropped his cigar. “Without con- 
sulting me?” 

“It rejected them. I’ve noticed 
how they will try to open it, now 
and then, perhaps thinking we may 
have left it unlocked. So, while they 
were arranging the food, I activated 
the Door. Both of them tried it.” 

“Of course,” Skarn said scorn- 
fully. “Why do you think I had this 
house built? These creatures are 
intelligent. That means they are 
curious. Already the workmen have 
spread the word about my mysteri- 
ous Door. There is not a single 
creature, young or old, who would 
not attempt to open it if he had a 
chance. But I want this understood 
—I am in charge of this Assignment. 
The Door is not to be activated 
except by my orders.” 

Dork’s eyes gleamed hatred, but 
he gestured indifferently. “How 
many glims do we sit around 
waiting before you decide to use the 
Door?” 

“We must proceed cautiously. If 
the Door had accepted one servant 



with the other one present—” 

“What does it matter? We can 
make our own departure as soon as 
we’ve found a specimen. We’ll leave 
nothing that would reveal our 
origin.” 

“No,” Skarn said. “We must not 
attract suspicion to ourselves. There 
must be no witnesses when the Door 
accepts a specimen. And we must 
wait a suitable period of time so 
that our departure will not be 
connected with the disappearance. 
These creatures may some day 
learn to transmit themselves. We 
do not want to leave the impres- 
sion that they have enemies on 
other worlds. Those are stern 
orders from His Imperial Highness 
himself.” 

“So how do we proceed?” 

Skarn unlocked his desk and 
removed a monumental stack of 
papers. He dropped it on the floor, 
restacked it when it toppled over, 
and regarded it wearily. 

“I have located an oddly func- 
tioning organization which calls 
itself a detective agency. It is 
furnishing me with detailed reports 
on every inhabitant of Centertown 
and the entire surrounding country- 
side. We have only to go through 
the reports and ask ourselves, Is 
this creature humble? Is he wise? 
Is he the head of a family? And 
so on. We shall select the few who 
seem best-qualified and invite 
them, one at a time, to be our 
guests. Their curiosity will impel 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



17 



them to try the Door. It will 
certainly accept one of them. We 
shall take action to divert suspicion 
from ourselves, and after a suitable 
waiting period, we shall dispose of 
our house and leave.” 

“It is well arranged,” Dork said 
enviously. “But what a frightful 
bother just to capture a specimen 
for old Kegor!” 

HP HE instruments of the Door— 
those Skarn and Dork were 
familiar with— reacted normally to 
the natives. Those with which they 
were not familiar reacted, normally 
or not, they could not say. They 
tested the transmitter relay, send- 
ing through a stray dog, a cat, and 
an assortment of live creatures that 
Skarn obtained from a neighboring 
farmer. 

The Director of the Royal 
Museum reacted promptly. Relay 
working perfectly. All specimens 
received in excellent condition and 
already on display. His Imperial 
Majesty highly pleased. Now— 
where is the specimen of the intelli- 
gent creature? 

Skarn advised the Director to 
expect it momentarily. He closed 
the Door and attached a small 
metal plate that advised, “Push.” 
He activated the Door and stood 
in front of it, listening to the pur- 
ring of the instruments. He cau- 
tiously attempted to push it himself 
and found that it would not open. 
Everything was ready. 



With Dork, he spent hours sift- 
ing through the stack of reports. 
Three-fourths were immediately 
eliminated— a figure that Skarn 
thought spoke well for these na- 
tives. The remaining fourth they 
studied, compared and debated. 
They reduced their list to a hun- 
dred names, to fifty, and finally to 
ten. Each of the ten they compared 
conscientiously with the maxims of 
the Great Kom. In the end, they 
had four names. 

“I don’t think this was neces- 
sary,” Dork said. “But perhaps you 
are right. This may be the more 
efficient approach. Certainly the 
Door will accept any of these 
promptly.” 

Skarn nodded and shuffled the 
reports. He was learning to smoke 
a pipe. Already the effort had cost 
him five teeth, and new teeth had 
not yet grown in. His mouth 
pained him as he grimly clutched 
at the pipe stem. Whenever he 
used his hand to support the bowl, 
he burned himself. He bit down 
hard on the stem, winced at the 
pain, and carefully removed it. He 
attempted a smoke ring, but the 
smoke poured forth in a turbulent 
cloud. 

He read through the four reports 
again. The Honorable Ernest 
Schwartz, Mayor of Centertown. 
Married. He and his wife hated 
each other devoutly. He had no 
children, no family dependent 
upon him. There were multitudi- 



18 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



nous rumors about him, to be 
gleaned everywhere around Cen- 
tertown. He was a liar. He was also 
a thief. He had betrayed the trust 
of his office repeatedly to enrich 
himself. He had betrayed his 
friends. He was greedy and evil. 
He held affection for no one. He 
had carried on affairs with the 
wives of his friends, and pushed his 
own wife into an affair for his 
political advantage. He seemed to 
bewitch the voters at election time. 

Skarn frowned. Election time? 
He would have to investigate that. 
Whatever it meant, bewitching the 
voters seemed an immoral thing to 
do. 

He turned to the next report. 
Sam White, Centertown Chief of 
Police. A bachelor, with no known 
relatives. He kept his job, it was 
said, by helping the mayor along 
with his crooked schemes. Some of 
his police officers called him a 
petty tyrant. He was adept at ob- 
taining confessions. He had several 
times been accused of brutality 
toward prisoners. 

Jim Adams, the Centertown 
drunk. He never worked, lived off 
his wife’s meager earnings, and 
beat his family mercilessly, drunk 
or sober. Technically, he was the 
head of a family; actually, the 
family would be far better off 
without him. 

Elmer Harley, a ne’er-do-well 
mechanic. A good mechanic, it was 
said, when he worked at it. He had 



been convicted and served jail 
terms for several crimes. Terra 
Haute police had given him a 
standing order to stay out of town. 
Centertown tolerated him warily. 
He had no family and no friends. 
He worked when he could, if he 
felt like it, at either of Centertown’s 
two garages. One of the proprietors 
liked him, it was said, because he 
was skilled at padding repair bills. 
That proprietor would have stood 
high on Skarn’s list, were it not for 
the fact that he verifiedly loved his 
wife and children. 

“When do we start?” Dork 
asked. 

Skarn removed his pipe from his 
lips, and made another blundering 
attempt at a smoke ring. “Tomor- 
row. I’ll ask this Mayor Schwartz 
to have dinner with me.” 

f | 1 HE Honorable Ernest Schwartz 
arrived precisely on time, driv- 
ing a flashy late-model car. Skarn 
met him at the door, shook his 
hand politely and ushered him into 
the living room. He took the may- 
or’s coat, hat and cane to one of 
the closets, and turned to face his 
guest. 

Schwartz was a big man, hearty, 
robust, his hair shining black de- 
spite his sixty years. He wore a 
mustache, trimmed meticulously. 
He stood looking about the living 
room, making commonplace com- 
pliments about the house, and his 
booming laugh filled the room. 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



19 




20 



GALAXY SCIENCE 



FICTION 




Skarn regarded him strangely. 
He was seeing him, not as the 
Honorable Mayor of Centertown, 
Indiana, but as a specimen in 
sealed plastic in the Royal Mu- 
seum. He was seeing him as one of 
a long row of bottled monstrosities 
that His Majesty’s patrol ships had 
sent in from a multitude of planets. 
He was seeing His Majesty him- 
self, cackling with delight, leading 
a noisy crowd of visiting dignitaries 
through the displays, stopping to 
point out Mayor Schwartz’s ridicu- 
lous black hair, his mustache, his 
odd clothing, the sparkling cuff 
links, the gold chain that hung 
from his vest pocket. 

It seemed wrong. Alien as it was, 
Skarn could sense the man’s per- 
sonal charm. He was friendly. He 
was obviously intelligent. 

Skarn shrugged. The decision 
was not his to make. The Door 
would decide. 

“Excuse me, please,” he said. “I 
do not like to entertain with serv- 
ants around. I’ll bring the food 
myself. If you’ll make yourself 
comfortable . . .” 

“Why, certainly,” Schwartz 
boomed. “Anything I can do to 
help?” 

“No, thank you. I can manage 
nicely.” 

Skarn joined Dork in the labora- 
tory and the two of them sat 
watching Schwartz in the viewer. 
Dork was jubilant. 

“What a specimen he’ll make,” 



he gloated. “He’s a big one. Do you 
suppose the specimen bottle will 
be big enough?” 

“It held that thing they call a 
calf,” Skarn said. “It should hold 
him.” 

Schwartz had taken a seat, but 
the reflected light from the sign on 
the Door caught his attention. He 
got calmly to his feet, crossed the 
room and read the label. The sign 
instructed him to push. He pushed. 
The Door resisted him firmly. 

Dork exploded into an involved 
series of Huzzian oaths. “I would 
have sworn that there isn’t a crea- 
ture in our files better qualified 
than that one.” 

Skarn was thoughtful. “So it 
would seem. We must have made 
a mistake. Perhaps I can find out 
about it. If you care to watch . . .” 

“Not me. His laugh gives me a 
headache. I’m going to bed.” 

Skarn lowered a serving cart 
and wheeled it into the living 
room. The mayor hurriedly got to 
his feet and helped him place the 
dishes on the table. They took 
their places and Skarn poured the 
cocktails. 

The mayor raised his glass and 
said seriously, “May your residence 
in Centertown be a long and happy 
one.” 

“Thank you,” Skarn said, feeling 
strangely moved. 

Skarn uncovered the dishes, and 
the mayor sniffed hungrily. “I have 
a confession to make,” he said. 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



21 



“The real reason I jumped at this 
invitation was that I knew you’d 
hired Lucy Morgan.” 

Skarn, still struggling to accus- 
tom himself to the odd food these 
natives delighted in, said indiffer- 
ently, “She seems capable.” 

“Man, she’s marvelous! She used 
to work for me.” 

“Indeed? But then, if you liked 
the food she prepared, why didn’t 
you keep her in ,your employ- 
ment?” 

The mayor scowled. “Women 
get funny notions. That was years 
ago. Lucy was just in her early 
twenties then, and my wife couldn’t 
get it through her head that it was 
Lucy’s cooking that I was inter- 
ested in. You married yourself?” 
“Not now,” Skarn answered cau- 
tiously. 

The mayor nodded and helped 
himself to steak. He concentrated 
on his food and talked a little 
between mouthfuls, mainly about 
Centertown. Skarn ate sparsely 
and tried to appear interested. 

“I appreciate this,” the mayor 
said suddenly. “Don’t often get a 
quiet evening. The mayor’s time 
belongs to everyone, day or night. 
Complaints about taxes, or the 
garbage service, or a hole in the 
street, or anything else. Each time 
I’m elected, I swear it’ll be the last 
time. But here I am— ten straight 
terms I’ve served, and I’ll probably 
go on until I die. Unless the voters 
decide to throw me out.” 



“I don’t understand this matter 
of election,” Skarn said. “We do 
not have it where I come from.” 

“I figured you were one of these 
refugees. Well, it seems simple to 
us, but I suppose it really isn’t. 
Two or three men run for mayor, 
and the people vote, and the one 
that gets the most votes is elected. 
For two years. Then there’s an- 
other election and the defeated 
candidates try again. Or maybe 
some new candidates. All it 
amounts to is that the people 
decide who runs things— those of 
them that take the trouble to vote.” 
“This voting is not required?” 
“Purely voluntary. Sometimes 
the turnout isn’t so hot.” 

CKARN considered this with a 
^ deep frown. “Wouldn’t it be 
simpler just to have your—” he 
thought a moment and attempted 
a translation— “Director of Voca- 
tional Assignments appoint a 
mayor?” 

“You’re thinking of the city 
manager sort of thing,” the mayor 
said. “Some places have them, but 
it’s usually the city council that 
does the appointing. Then, of 
course, they usually have mayors, 
too.” 

Skarn squirmed uncomfortably 
and tried again. “Your Director of 
Vocational Assignments . . .” 

“We haven’t got anything like 
that.” 

Skarn formulated his question 



22 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



carefully. “Who assigns the voca- 
tions?” 

“Nobody. People work at what 
they want to, if they can do it, or 
at what they can get. It isn’t like 
those Iron Curtain countries. If a 
man doesn’t like his job, or his 
boss, or if he can get something 
better, he quits. The people run the 
show here. Sometimes they get the 
wool pulled over their eyes, but not 
for long.” 

“But you’re going to be mayor 
until you die?” 

“I suppose it’ll work out that 
way, unless the people throw me 
out.” 

“When are you going to die?” 

The mayor winced. “For God’s 
sake!” he bellowed, and dissolved 
in laughter. “How do I know? I 
might get hit by a car on the way 
home, or drop dead from overeat- 
ing. Or I might live to be a hun- 
dred. What a question!” 

Skarn’s thoughts whirled dizzily. 
The ideas were too much for him 
and he couldn’t cope with them. 
He leaned back, staring at the 
mayor. 

“I came up the hard way,” the 
mayor said. “I made my money 
honestly and I went into politics 
honestly. I’ve kept my hands about 
as clean as a politician can keep 
them. Most of the people know 
that, which is why they vote for 
me. It’s petty politics. I’m just a 
big frog in a small puddle here 
and I like it that way. I know 



everyone personally and everyone 
knows me. Every time a new baby 
is born, I have a new boss. I’m as 
happy as the proud parents. I 
wouldn’t have it any other way. 
But politics is a dirty business. 

“Some people had it all their 
way before I was elected, and 
there are always others who’d like 
to have it their way. They’ve 
pulled every foul trick in the 
books. They’ve spread the damn- 
edest lies about me. My wife just 
can’t take those things. We were 
happily married until I got elected 
mayor, and politics has ruined my 
marriage. I suppose anything a 
man accomplishes has its price, but 
if I had it to do over again, I don’t 
know. Maybe I’d do it and maybe 
I wouldn’t.” He grinned. “I’ll tell 
you what— I’ve got a book on the 
American system of government. 
I’ll send it over. It explains things 
a lot better than I could tell them 
to you.” 

“I would appreciate that,” Skarn 
said. “I would appreciate that very 
much.” 

C HIEF of Police Sam White 
arrived on foot to be Skarn’s 
luncheon guest. A tall, slim, digni- 
fied man, his manner was soft- 
spoken and friendly. Skarn, on the 
basis of his report, had visualized 
him in some dismal cellar furiously 
lashing a stubborn prisoner. But 
the chief did not seem to belong 
in that role. Silvery-gray hair 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



23 



crowned a wrinkled, sympathetic 
face. There was gentleness in his 
handshake, in his mannerisms, in 
his voice- Skarn began to visualize 
him in a different setting, in a 
sealed specimen bottle, and felt un- 
comfortable. 

Skarii left him alone in the liv- 
ing room, and he and Dork 
watched anxiously from the labora- 
tory. The chief shocked them 
thoroughly by disdaining to so 
much as try the Door. Later, Skarn 
lured him into making the attempt 
by asking his assistance in opening 
it. And the Door ignored him. 

After lunch, they sat together on 
the sofa and talked and smoked, 
the chief describing his various 
interests with dry humor and 
Skarn listening intently. Did Skarn 
ever do any fishing? Or hunting? 

“I’ll take you with me the next 
time I go out,” the chief said. “If 
you’re interested, that is.” Skarn 
was interested. “Ever play any 
chess?” Skarn did not know the 
game. ‘‘Drop in sometime when 
you’re uptown. Things are usually 
pretty quiet around the police de- 
partment of a town this size. I’ll 
teach you.” 

The chief sent a smoke ring 
sailing across the room, and Skarn 
looked .after it enviously. His own 
effort was a formless catastrophe. 

When Skarn had stopped cough- 
ing, the chief said gently, “You go 
at it the wrong way. You can’t 
make a smoke ring by blowing. 



You have to do it with your 
mouth. Look.” 

Skarn watched, made the effort, 
and failed. 

“Try it again,” the chief sug- 
gested. 

Skarn tried. His tenth effort was 
a definite smoke ring, wobbly, lop- 
sided and short-lived, but still a 
ring. Skarn watched it with delight. 

“Keep working at it,” the chief 
said. “A little practice and you’ll 
be an expert.” 

“I will,” Skarn promised, and 
felt forever beholden to him. 

Afterward, Dork stormed an- 
grily about the laboratory, and 
Skarn restudied his reports. “The 
Detective Agency is in error,” he 
announced. “Those men are not 
evil.” 

“Just how do we know the 
Detective Agency is not in error 
on all the reports?” 

“We don’t,” Skarn said. “We will 
have to keep trying and find out 
for ourselves.” 

J IM ADAMS arrived early that 
evening, shabby, unshaven, tor- 
ment in his eyes. He extended a 
trembling hand for Skarn to shake 
and whined, “I need a drink. 
Haven’t had one today. Will you 
give me a drink?” 

Skarn patted his back gently. 
“Of course. You can have all you 
want.” He led the small, stumbling 
figure into the living room. “I keep 
it there— in the center closet. You 



24 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



help yourself while I’m bringing 
the food down.” 

Adams pushed at the door. He 
hurled his weight against it. He 
shrieked and kicked and clawed 
and finally slumped to the floor 
and sobbed brokenly, and Skarn 
and Dork watched with sick dis- 
gust. And still the Door would not 
open. 

Skarn went back down with the 
food and a supply of liquor. Adams 
ate little and drank much, drank 
himself into a reeking, slobbering 
intoxication, and finally passed out. 
Skarn worked over his unconscious 
body doubtfully and finally be- 
came alarmed enough to call Sam 
White. 

“I have Jim Adams here for 
dinner,” he said, “and—” 

The chief chuckled. “Say no 
more. I’ll send someone to collect 
him.” 

Adams’ inert form was hauled 
away, and Skarn felt both relieved 
and puzzled. 

“And just how do you account 
for the Door’s rejecting him?” 
Dork demanded. 

“I don’t,” Skarn said. “I can’t 
account for it at all.” 

T^LMER HARLEY thumped 
belligerently on the door, and 
he stood in the doorway and made 
no motion to accept Skarn’s out- 
stretched hand. “Mind telling me 
why you asked me out here?” 

Skarn studied him gravely. He 



was a muscular man of medium 
height. His dark hair was cut short. 
A fine scar line curved around his 
left cheek. His suit was worn, but 
freshly pressed. He was clean- 
shaven, neat-looking. 

“I’m getting acquainted with 
some of the people of Centertown,” 
Skarn said anxiously. “I hope that 
the invitation does not offend you.” 
Harley shrugged and held out 
his hand. “Just wondered. I heard 
you had Jim Adams up here.” 
“Why, yes, I did.” 

“And Sam White and the 
mayor?” 

“Yes.” 

“And now me. It doesn’t make 
sense to me.” 

Skarn smiled and escorted him 
into the living room. “How much 
of life does make sense?” 

“You said a mouthful there.” 

“I’ll bring the food down. The 
liquor is in the middle closet. Pick 
out what you’d like to have.” 

Harley nodded. A moment later, 
watching from the laboratory, 
Skarn and Dork saw him push 
once on the Door, hard, and then 
walk over to a sofa and sit down. 

Dork stomped off to his bed- 
room, and Skarn returned to the 
living room with the serving cart. 
“The door’s locked,” Harley said. 
“It doesn’t have a lock,” Skarn 
replied. “I’m afraid it’s stuck. I’ve 
been having trouble with it.” 
Harley jumped to his feet. 
“That so? I’ll take another look.” 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



25 



He applied his shoulder to the 
door, and fell back a minute later, 
red-faced and breathing heavily. 
“It’s really stuck. If you have some 
tools, I’ll see what I can do about 
it.” 

“It’s not that important,” Skarn 
said. 

But Harley had turned to the 
next closet. He pushed the thick 
door inward and stood staring at 
the hinges. “That’s really slick. 
Slides the door back and then lets 
it open. Is the other door hung like 
this one?” 

“Why, yes,” Skarn said. 

“Let’s see what could have gone 
wrong.” 

TT ARLEY moved the door 
slowly, watching the action of 
the hinges. “Really slick,” he said, 
“I don’t see how anything could 
have gone wrong. Did you make 
these things yourself?” 

“Yes,” Skarn lied, beginning to 
feel embarrassed. 

“You ought to patent them. You 
could make some money out of 
them.” 

“I’m afraid not many people use 
doors this thick.” 

“There are lots of places they 
might be used, with a hinge like 
that. Safes and refrigerators, things 
like that. If I was you, I’d patent 
it.” 

“Thank you. I’ll consider it,” 
Skarn said. “Our food will be get- 
ting cold.” 



Harley concentrated on his food 
and ate hungrily. Afterward, he 
settled himself in an overstuffed 
chair and talked about automo- 
biles, and Skarn listened atten- 
tively and managed an occasional 
smoke ring. 

Harley knew automobiles. He 
discussed them collectively and 
individually, their good points and 
weak points, their trade-in values, 
their economy or lack of it, where 
they were most likely to break 
down, and why. 

“When you get around to buy- 
ing a car,” he said, “ask me. I can 
keep you from going wrong on a 
new one, and if it’s a used one, I 
can tell you if you’re getting your 
money’s worth.” 

“I’ll remember that,” Skarn 
promised. “I’ve heard that you are 
a very good mechanic.” 

“I get by.” 

“There doesn’t seem to be much 
for a good mechanic to do in 
Centertown.” 

“Not with the crooks that run 
the garages here,” Harley said 
grimly. 

Skarn studied him. He could not 
see him as the man the report 
described. He could not see him in 
a specimen bottle. “If you had 
your life to live over,” he said, “is 
there anything you’d do differ- 
ently?” 

Harley smiled wistfully. “There 
isn’t much I’d do the same.” 

“For example?” 



26 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



“I pulled a couple of jobs when 
I was younger. Small stuff, but I 
did some time. Now, whenever 
anything happens, the police come 
looking for me. Ex-con, you know. 
I can’t get a decent job. I should 
never have come back to Center- 
town, but my mother was here, 
and my getting into trouble nearly 
killed her. I couldn’t make a home 
for her anywhere else, just coming 
out of the pen that way, so I came 
back here to look after her. She 
died four years ago and I’m still 
here. In a rut.” 

S KARN met Dork in the labora- 
tory after Harley left. 

“I heard,” said Dork. “He loved 
his mother. That is considered an 
overpowering virtue among these 
creatures.” 

“Perhaps so,” Skarn said. 

“Invite one of them back,” Dork 
urged earnestly. “Any one. We can 
put the door on manual and shove 
him through and have done with it. 
This planet won’t be any worse 
than it is without him, and he cer- 
tainly won’t do any harm in old 
Kegor’s museum. And we can go 
home.” 

“No,” Skarn said firmly. “We 
must not contest the wisdom of the 
Great Kom.” 

“What are you going to do 
now?” 

“I don’t know. I must think the 
matter out carefully. Perhaps there 
are no evil creatures in this Center- 

THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



town. We may have to search else- 
where.” 

Dork got to his feet and paced 
the laboratory, his squat figure 
leaning forward at a tense angle, 
his eyes blazing angrily, his face a 
violent shade of blue. “All right. 
You are in charge. But I am going 
to continue to invite these crea- 
tures here and have them try the 
Door. You can’t deny me that.” 

“No,” Skarn agreed. “I see no 
objection to that. You may use the 
reports and invite anyone you like. 
If you don’t succeed . . .” 

“I shall succeed,” Dork prom- 
ised. 

In the morning, there was a con- 
fidential message from the Prime 
Minister. Dork Diffack, the Prime 
Minister said, had sent an alarming 
report on Skarn’s management of 
the Assignment. Skarn, according 
to the report, was deliberately 
avoiding the selection of a proper 
specimen and showing a suspicious 
proclivity for the ways of the na- 
tives. His Imperial Majesty was 
angry. It was ordered that Skarn 
forward a complete explanation 
and find the desired specimen with- 
out further delay. 

Skarn sent off a report on Dork’s 
treasonable suggestion that a speci- 
men be obtained without the Door’s 
approval. He installed a mental 
lock at the controls, so Dork would 
be unable to place the Door on 
manual operation without Skarn’s 
consent. 



27 



Skarn walked down to Center- 
town and wandered in and out of 
the stores, making casual purchases 
and attempting to engage the 
clerks in conversation. They all 
knew him— he was certain that 
most of them had attended his 
open house— but they seemed 
strangely reserved in his presence. 

1 1 1 HE initial topic of conversation 
•*- was always the weather. Skarn 
could understand that a relatively 
primitive civilization which had 
not yet learned to control the 
weather might regard it with awe 
and frustration. But he could not 
understand why every individual 
seemed to take a personal responsi- 
bility for it being the kind of day 
it was. 

“Nice day,” a clerk would say. 

“Oh, very,” Skarn would concur. 
He would make his purchase and 
ask, “Do you know Jim Adams?” 

“Who doesn’t?” the clerk would 
say, and move on to the next cus- 
tomer. 

“Do I know Chief White?” a 
shoeshine boy said. “I ain’t no 
criminal!” 

“What do I think of the mayor?” 
a waitress said. “I aim to vote for 
him. Another cup of coffee?” 

“Why— ah— yes,” Skarn said, and 
drank it, though it nauseated him. 

The natives he had invited to his 
home had been friendly and talked 
freely with him. Those he encoun- 
tered about Centertown were 



friendly enough, if Skarn ap- 
proached them first, but their 
restraint puzzled him. What could 
bring about such a fundamental 
difference in their behavior? It was 
a matter for psychological specula- 
tion. 

Skarn ate a revolting lunch at 
the drugstore and then cautiously 
descended the worn steps to the 
basement of the rickety city hall, 
where Police Headquarters were 
located. Sam White was the only 
one in the small headquarters room. 
He sat with his chair tilted back, 
his feet on his desk. 

He nodded casually and pointed 
at a chair. “What brings you to the 
law?” 

“I am making a social call,” 
Skarn said politely. 

“Make yourself comfortable. Not 
many people come down here un- 
less they have something to beef 
about.” 

“I suppose you meet more than 
your share of evil people,” Skarn 
said. 

“I wouldn’t say that. I really 
don’t believe there is such a thing 
as an evil person. We get some bad 
ones now and then, but there isn’t 
a one of them that couldn’t have 
been straightened out if he’d been 
caught before he got too far out of 
line.” 

“Do you really believe that?” 

The chief smiled. “There is so 
much good in the worst of us, and 
so much bad in the best of us, that 

GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 

% 



28 



it hardly behooves any of us to talk 
about the rest of us. I might have 
written that myself, if someone 
hadn’t beaten me to it.” 

“Do you really believe that?” 
Skarn persisted. 

“Of course I do. Sometimes it’s 
the only thing that keeps me going.” 

“And yet you sometimes find it 
necessary to use violence on your 
prisoners.” 

HIEF White’s feet hit the floor 
^ with a crash. “Nobody in this 
department uses violence on any- 
body!” 

“But I heard . . .” 

“Sure, you heard. You hear that 
about police anywhere. That’s a 
crook’s last line of defense. Catch 
him good and the only thing he can 
do is try to blame something on 
the police. We have to be pretty 
damned careful to keep them from 
getting away with it.” 

“I see,” Skarn said. 

The chief returned his feet to his 
desk, and Skarn lit a cigarette and 
sent a perfect smoke ring floating 
across the room. The chief whistled. 

“You’ve got that down pat. What 
did I tell you?” 

“Your prediction was profoundly 
accurate.” 

“I’ll make another prediction. I 
think you’ll like chess. Want to 
learn?” 

Skarn watched curiously as the 
chief got out the board and set the 
oddly shaped pieces on it. 



“This,” the chief said, holding up 
a black one, “is a knight.” 

Skarn reached for a white one, 
the same shape. “And I suppose this 
is a day.” 

The chief flapped his arms and 
howled, and Skarn laughed with 
him, wondering why. 

It was dusk when Skarn walked 
slowly back up the hill. Dork was 
entertaining a guest— a female guest. 
Skarn slipped up the stairway un- 
noticed and flipped on the living 
room viewer. He had carefully 
avoided the native females in his 
own tests. Their psychology seemed 
infinitely more complex and their 
motives obscured in fantastic ways. 

He watched while Dork talked 
with his female specimen. Dork 
gave her money, and she turned and 
walked resolutely over to the Door 
and shoved against it. It failed to 
open. A violent argument followed 
and she flung the money at Dork 
and left. 

Dork did not offer to discuss the 
incident and Skarn did not ask him 
about it. 

T^HE stores were not yet open 
when Skarn reached the down- 
town part of Centertown the next 
morning. He walked the length of 
Main Street and back again, moving 
slowly, finding an increasing num- 
ber of faces which were familiar to 
him. He started back up Main 
Street a second time, and in front of 
the Center Bar he met Jim Adams. 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



29 



Adams squinted uncertainly at 
Skarn and passed a trembling hand 
across his face. “Oh, it’s you,” he 
said. 

“Jonathan Skarn. Nice morning, 
isn’t it?” Skarn found that he 
slipped easily into the native pat- 
terns of conversation. “This place 
will open in a few minutes. May I 
buy you a drink?” 

Adams said nothing. They were 
the first customers, and Skarn fol- 
lowed Adams up to the bar, paid for 
the drink he ordered, and watched 
as he downed it greedily. 

“Another?” Skarn asked. 

Adams wiped his mouth with the 
back of his hand and stared blankly 
at him. Skarn nodded at the bar- 
tender, who refilled the glass. 
Adams stood slumped over the bar. 
Suddenly he clutched at the glass 
and flung the contents into Skarn’s 
face. 

“I’m killing myself fast enough,” 
he said bitterly. “I don’t need your 
help.” 

Skarn accepted a paper napkin 
from the bartender and wiped his 
face dry. “Let’s sit down,” he said. 
“Is there something you’d rather 
have? Food, maybe?” 

He led Adams over to a booth. 

Adams squinted at him again, 
this time incredulous. “You ain’t 
sore?” 

“I think,” Skarn said, “that you 
are a sick man.” 

Adams buried his face in his arms 
and sobbed. “When I ain’t drunk, 



I’m a louse, because I want to get 
drunk. And when I’m drunk, I’m a 
louse.” 

“Isn’t there anything you can do 
about it?” 

“In this town? Big cities got Al- 
coholics Anonymous and things like 
that. Here there ain’t nothing. Doc 
Winslow says go in the hospital and 
get cured. But that costs money, and 
I ain’t got money. Won’t ever have 
any, unless I get cured, and I can’t 
get cured unless I have some. So I 
drink myself to death. Who the 
hell cares?” 

Skarn got to his feet and took a 
firm grip on Adam’s arm. “Let’s go 
and talk to your Doctor Winslow,” 
he said. 

A DAMS listened dumbly while 
- / -*-Dr. Winslow struggled to de- 
scribe hospital expenses in terms 
acceptable to Skarn. The doctor 
made a series of long-distance tele- 
phone calls. He jovially slapped 
Adams on the back. He shook hands 
with Skarn. And, at noon, Skarn was 
at the railroad station seeing that a 
somewhat bewildered Adams got 
aboard the train that would take 
him to a hospital. 

Mrs. Adams was there, a slight, 
pale-faced woman, and with her 
were the seven Adams children. 
Mrs. Adams sank to her knees be- 
fore Skarn and clutched his legs 
tearfully. Skarn gently raised her to 
her feet. 

“It’s quite all right,” he said. “Jim 



30 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



is going to come back cured. Aren’t 
you, Jim?” 

“I sure am,” Adams promised. 

“He’s been a sick man, but he’s 
going to be all right. And then your 
worries will be over.” 

“God bless you,” Mrs. Adams 
sobbed. 

Skarn patted her shoulder awk- 
wardly. “If you need anything in the 
meantime,” he heard himself say, 
“don’t hesitate to call on me.” 

After the train pulled out, Skarn 
walked back to the Centertown 
Bank and arranged to have a 
weekly allowance paid to the 
Adams family. Coming out of the 
bank, he met Chief of Police White. 

The chief’s hand clamped un- 
comfortably on Skarn’s. “I heard 
about what you did,” he said. “Word 
gets around fast in a small town 
like this.” 

They walked together along 
Main Street. The president of the 
bank stopped to shake hands with 
Skarn. Faces familiar and unfam- 
iliar smiled and spoke pleasantly. 
Good afternoon, Mr. Skarn. Nice 
day, isn’t it, Mr. Skarn? You’re 
looking well today, Mr. Skarn. In 
one block, Skarn was offered seven 
free beers, three dinners and a lodge 
membership. 

« W HAT happened?” he asked 
” the chief. 

“Jim Adams has been kind of a 
town problem for years. Everyone 
felt responsible for him, but nobody 



knew what to do about him. You * 
solved the problem at one crack. 
That’s what happened.” 

They paused in front of the city 
hall and the chief gripped Skarn’s 
hand again. “These small towns are 
peculiar places,” he said. “A person 
can come from outside and live in 
one for years and never make the 
grade. And then sometimes— well, 
you’re one of us now.” 

Mayor Schwartz lumbered up, 
breathing heavily. “I chased you a 
block,” he panted. “Didn’t you hear 
me calling you?” 

“No, I didn’t,” Skarn said. “I’m 
very sorry if—” 

“Heard what you did for Jim 
Adams. Wonder why some of the 
rest of us didn’t think of it. Look, 
we’ve got a vacancy on the planning 
commission and I think you’re just 
the man for it. I’ve talked with the 
council members, and if it’s all right 
with you, we’ll make it official at the 
meeting tonight.” 

“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” 
Skarn confessed. 

“It’s nothing complicated. The 
commission meets once a month 
and mostly just talks. But you’re a 
newcomer and you might see things 
the rest of us have been overlooking 
for years, like Jim Adams. Why not 
give it a try? You can always resign 
if it’s too much of an imposition.” 
Skarn looked at the chief. The 
chief nodded gravely. 

“Why, yes,” Skarn said. “I’d be 
honored.” 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



31 



TTE FOUND Elmer Harley at 
work in Merrel’s Garage. Har- 
ley slammed down a wrench and 
went over and washed up before he 
offered to shake hands warmly 
with Skarn. 

“Naw, nobody will care if I have 
a beer with you,” he answered 
Skarn’s question. 

He followed Skarn across the 
street to the Center Bar. They sat 
down in a booth and the bartender 
brought two beers. Skarn took a sip 
and grimaced. 

“I heard what you did for Jim 
Adams,” Harley said. “And— hell, it 
was a fine thing to do.” 

“Do you think he will reform?” 
Skarn asked. 

“With half a chance, I’m sure he 
will.” 

“Then it was time someone did 
something about it.” 

Harley nodded slowly and sipped 
his beer. “Jim never was a bad guy. 
He was weak and he got himself 
trapped. You thinking of reforming 
me?” 

“I had given it some thought,” 
Skarn conceded. 

“I suppose it’s time somebody did 
something about that, too.” 

“I was thinking of opening a 
garage,” Skarn said. “An honest 
garage. Do you think there’s a place 
for one here?” 

“There’s a place for an honest 
garage anywhere.” 

“Do you think you could run one 
for me?” 




Harley half rose to his feet. “Try 
me!” 

“You look around and see if you 
can find a place for it and make an 
estimate of what you’d need.” 

“Right away,” Harley said. “As 
soon as I tell Merrel to go to hell.” 
The house was dark when Skarn 
returned, dark upstairs and down. 
He did not bother with lights. He 
moved easily through the darkness 
to the laboratory, heard Dork’s 
quick breathing, and settled on a 
hassock near him. Dork preferred 



32 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




p 



the darkness. He did not like the 
confusing alteration of night and 
day. On his native planet, it was 
always either dark or never dark, 
and Dork claimed that the revolu- 
tions of this primitive planet en- 
dangered his health. 

They sat in the gloom in silence. 
After a while, Skarn lit a cigarette, 
and Dork winced at the flash of 
light. 

“Do you have a specimen 
ready?” he demanded. 

“No,” Skarn said. “Do you have 



one?” 

“I heard about what you’ve been 
doing. I’ve made a full report. I have 
a reply. You are relieved of the 
Assignment. You are to report back 
to the Mother Planet immediate- 
ly — without delay.” 

Skarn smiled. “And you are to 
complete the Assignment, no 
doubt.” 

“On personal orders from His 
Imperial Majesty.” 

“Following the Rule of the Door 
explicitly, I suppose.” 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



33 



jTkORK’S laiigh was hideous. “The 
Great Kom won’t know it. 
What His Imperial Majesty 
doesn’t know won’t hurt him. What 
you say won’t matter, because no 
one will believe you. Your handling 
of the Assignment has been a dis- 
grace, Skarn Skukarn. I very much 
doubt that you will be allowed to 
fulfill your span of living.” 

“Would you mind telling me how 
you plan to obtain a specimen?” 
asked Skarn. 

“I will invite your specimens 
back. Three of them, since you have 
sent one away. I’ll send them all 
through and get away from this 
cursed planet.” 

“The Door won’t accept them. I 
doubt if it will accept any resident 
of Centertown.” 

“What the Door decides won’t 
matter. I’ll operate it on manual.” 

“I have the controls on mental 
lock. I won’t release them to you.” 
“You’ll release them,” Dork said. 
“There are worse penalties than 
death, you know.” 

Skarn sat lost in thought. Life on 
the Mother Planet, and the queer 
ways it contrasted with life on this 
alien world. The young wife he had 
loved, and the exalted minister who 
had taken her from him. The work 
he had left unfinished in his labora- 
tory at the Royal University. The 
time left of his life span. He tried to 
imagine how it must be for these 
natives, who left their life spans to 
chance and disease, instead of mak- 



ing them a matter of law. 

He thought, and compared, and 
made his decision. “These natives 
are friends of mine. Skarn Skukarn 
does not betray a friend.” 

“I will ask for new equipment,” 
Dork said. 

“Regardless of my status, I be- 
lieve I can make known the reason 
for your request. I don’t think it will 
be granted.” 

Dork leaped to his feet. “What 
was that?” He activated the viewer 
and his hand closed on Skarn’s arm. 
“Someone is downstairs.” 

Skarn adjusted the viewer and 
flooded the living room with invis- 
ible light. 

“We have a visitor,” Dork said. 
“Skarn, we’re being robbed!” 

They watched the shabby figure 
fumble awkwardly through the 
darkness, feeling his way forward, 
clumsily moving around the furni- 
ture. A handkerchief covered the 
face below the eyes. 

“He’s heard about our Door,” 
Skarn said. “He probably thinks we 
keep riches behind it.” 

Dork clapped his hands and said 
gleefully, “This resolves our prob- 
lem. The Door will certainly accept 
a specimen that approaches it in an 
evil act.” 

“His evil act may have a noble 
purpose,” Skarn said. 

r T , HE intruder blundered his way 
across the room, lunged into one 
of the closets, came out again and 



34 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



moved along the wall toward the 
Door. Dork sucked his breath in 
noisily and released it in a spasm of 
profanity when the Door failed to 
move. 

“Set the Door on manual,” he 
said. “I’ll send him through. No one 
knows he’s here. No one will miss 
him. We can get off the damnable 
world immediately.” 

“The Rule of the Door . . 

“Damn the Rule! He’s an evil 
man, isn’t he? This planet will be a 
better place without him, won’t it?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“Do you know this native? Do 
you claim him for a friend?” 

“No,” Skarn said. “I don’t know 
him.” 

“Set the Door on manual,” Dork 
ordered. There was sneering author- 
ity in his voice. He swaggered away. 

Skarn sank back wearily. The 
Great Kom had been wiser than he 
had ever imagined to devise such a 
door. Perhaps it was never meant to 
open. Who could say, after all, that 
the Imperial Majesty of that an- 
cient time had actually obtained an 
intelligent specimen by way of the 
Door? Perhaps in his immortal wis- 
dom the Great Kom had devised a 
plan that would prevent the Im- 
perial Majesty from obtaining a 
specimen. And now this— this cir- 
cumventing of the Door. It was a 
terrible thing. 

Let Dork do what he could. 
Skarn would not do it. He could not. 

In the room below, the intruder 



was assaulting the Door with his 
shoulder. The lights came on, and 
Dork entered the room. He raised 
his hands in mock fear as the thief 
pointed a gun at him. 

“Certainly I’ll open it for you,” he 
said. “Come and help me push.” 

Dork moved toward the door, 
with the thief close behind him. He 
paused, half turned to say some- 
thing, and suddenly the Door jerked 
open. Dork was sucked through in 
an instant, and the Door slammed 
in the face of the startled thief who 
beat upon it angrily. 

CKARN jerked to his feet and 
^ stood there, fists clenched, his 
mind paralyzed with shock. At 
length he controlled himself and vis- 
ualized what was happening, know- 
ing that while he thought about it, it 
had already happened— the body of 
Dork Diffack whipped at many 
times the speed of light from relay 
station to relay station across space, 
and sealed instantaneously into a 
specimen bottle at the Royal Mu- 
seum, to the colossal consternation 
of the attendants. They would rec- 
ognize him immediately, of course. 
But it would be too late. 

The secret of the Door came to 
Skarn clearly, and he humbly 
bowed to the memory of the Great 
Kom. The door had been attuned to 
the characteristics of one people, and 
one people only, and those people 
had been the inhabitants of Dork’s 
planet of Huzz, discovered back in 



THE RULE OF THE DOOR 



35 



those remote times when ships of 
the Empire were first creeping out- 
ward from the Mother Planet. The 
Door had been designed so that only 
a creature like Dork would be ac- 
cepted, a creature devoid of love 
and friendship and kindness, an evil 
creature, caught in an act of evil, 
entangled in his own sinister plot 
against another intelligent being. 
The wisdom of the Great Kom was 
absolute. 

Skarn acted quickly. He dared 
not return to the Mother Planet. 
But he liked these natives. He liked 
their world. He admired the free- 
dom they enjoyed and the blend of 
good and bad in their characters. He 
had many years to live, by the way 
these natives measured time. He 
had the store of precious metals 
furnished him for his assignment. 
He had the house. He had his lab- 
oratory, small as it was. He had— 
yes, in Centertown he had friends. 

He opened a panel in the wall 
and closed the switch that sent the 
transmitter hurtling back through 
space. In succession, the relay sta- 
tions would fold in on each other 
and all return to the Mother Planet. 



Perhaps His Imperial Majesty 
would send an expedition for him; 
perhaps not. It didn’t matter. Only 
Dork knew exactly where Skarn 
was located on this planet, and 
Dork’s knowledge was safe for an 
eternity. So was Skarn. 

He picked up the telephone and 
called Sam White. “I have been re- 
flecting upon that game which you 
call chess. I believe the next time 
I can defeat you. Is it too late to try 
tonight?” 

“Hell, no!” said the chief. “Come 
on over.” 

“Shortly,” Skarn said. “I have a 
small matter to attend to here.” 

Skarn met the thief as he came 
out of the central closet. He para- 
lyzed him with a nerve gun, took the 
threatening revolver and released 
him. The young eyes that stared at 
him over the handkerchief were ter- 
rified. 

“What happened to that guy? 
That closet— it’s empty!” 

“Of course it’s empty,” Skarn 
said. “That’s why the door opened 
so easily. Now tell me, why is it that 
you need money?” 

— LLOYD HIGGLE, JR. 



LEARN TO PREDICT YOUR FUTURE: Are you helplessly 
drifting with the tides of life? 

You can learn to control your future. 

Individual processing Intensives. 

Write REGISTRAR OF SCIENTOLOGY 
Hubbard Guidance Center, 

1812 19th Street, N. W. Washington, D. C. 



36 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



THE BIG 



BOUNCE 



By WALTER S. TEVIS 

Seeing it in action, anybody 
would quaver in alarm: What 
hath Farnsworth overwrought? 



Illustrated by JOHNSON 



44T ET . me show you some- 
thing,” Farnsworth said. 

J He set his near-empty 
drink— a Bacardi martini — on the 
mantel and waddled out of the 
room toward the basement. 

I sat in my big leather chair, 
feeling very peaceful with the 
world, watching the fire. Whatever 
Farnsworth would have to show to- 
night would be far more entertain- 
ing than watching T.V.— my cus- 
tom on other evenings. Farnsworth, 



with his four labs in the house and 
his very tricky mind, never failed 
to provide my best night of the 
week. 

When he returned, after a mo- 
ment, he had with him a small box, 
about three inches square. He held 
this carefully in one hand and 
stood by the fireplace dramatical- 
ly— or as dramatically as a very 
small, very fat man with pink 
cheeks can stand by a fireplace of 
the sort that seems to demand a 



THE BIG BOUNCE 



37 



big man with tweeds, pipe and, 
perhaps, a saber wound. 

Anyway, he held the box dra- 
matically and he said, “Last week, 
I was playing around in the chem 
lab, trying to make a new kind of 
rubber eraser. Did quite well with 
the other drafting equipment, you 
know, especially the dimensional 
curve and the photosensitive ink. 
Well, I approached the job by try- 
ing for a material that would ab- 
sorb graphite without abrading 
paper.” 

I was a little disappointed with 
this; it sounded pretty tame. But 
I said, “How did it come out?” 

TIE screwed his pudgy face up 
thoughtfully. “Synthesized the 
material, all right, and it seems to 
work, but the interesting thing is 
that it has a certain— ah— secondary 
property that would make it quite 
awkward to use. Interesting prop- 
erty, though. Unique, I am inclined 
to believe.” 

This began to sound more like 
it. “And what property is that?” 
I poured myself a shot of straight 
rum from the bottle sitting on the 
table beside me. I did not like 
straight rum, but I preferred it to 
Farnsworth’s rather imaginative 
cocktails. 

“I’ll show you, John,” he said. 
He opened the box and I could 
see that it was packed with some 
kind of batting. He fished in this 
and withdrew a gray ball about the 

38 



size of a golfball and set the box 
on the mantel. 

“And that’s the — eraser?” I 
asked. 

“Yes,” he said. Then he squatted 
down, held the ball about a half- 
inch from the floor, dropped it. 

It bounced, naturally enough. 
Then it bounced again. And again. 
Only this was not natural, for on 
the second bounce the ball went 
higher in the air than on the first, 
and on the third bounce higher 
still. After a half minute, my eyes 
were bugging out and the little ball 
was bouncing four feet in the air 
and going higher each time. 

I grabbed my glass. “What the 
hell!” I said. 

Farnsworth caught the ball in a 
pudgy hand and held it. He was 
smiling a little sheepishly. “Inter- 
esting effect, isn’t it?” 

“Now wait a minute,” I said, 
beginning to think about it. 
“What’s the gimmick? What kind 
of motor do you have in that 
thing?” 

His eyes were wide and a little 
hurt. “No gimmick, John. None at 
all. Just a very peculiar molecular 
structure.” 

“Structure!” I said. “Bouncing 
balls just don’t pick up energy out 
of nowhere, I don’t care how their 
molecules are put together. And 
you don’t get energy out without 
putting energy in.” 

“Oh,” he said, “that’s the really 
interesting thing. Of course you’re 

GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



right; energy does go into the ball. 
Here, I’ll show you.” 

He let the ball drop again and 
it began bouncing, higher and 
higher, until it was hitting the 
ceiling. Farnsworth reached out to 
catch it, but he fumbled and the 
thing glanced off his hand, hit 
the mantelpiece and zipped across 
the room. It banged into the far 
wall, richocheted, banked off three 
other walls, picking up speed all 
the time. 

When it whizzed by me like a 
rifle bullet, I began to get wor- 
ried, but it hit against one of the 
heavy draperies by the window 
and this damped its motion enough 
so that it fell to the floor. 

T T started bouncing again im- 
mediately, but Farnsworth 
scrambled across the room and 
grabbed it. He was perspiring a 
little and he began instantly to 
transfer the ball from one hand to 
another and back again as if it 
were hot. 

“Here,” he said, and handed it 
to me. 

I almost dropped it. 

“It’s like a ball of ice!” I said. 
“Have you been keeping it in the 
refrigerator?” 

“No. As a matter of fact, it was 
at room temperature a few minutes 
ago.” 

“Now wait a minute,” I said. 
“I pnly teach physics in high 
school, but I know better than that. 



Moving around in warm air doesn’t 
make anything cold except by 
evaporation.” 

“Well, there’s your input and 
output, John,” he said. “The ball 
lost heat and took on motion. 
Simple conversion.” 

My jaw must have dropped to 
my waist. “Do you mean that that 
little thing is converting heat to 
kinetic energy?” 

“Apparently.” 

“But that’s impossible!” 

He was beginning to smile 
thoughtfully. The ball was not as 
cold now as it had been and I was 
holding it in my lap. 

“A steam engine does it,” he 
said, “and a steam turbine. Of 
course, they’re not very efficient.” 
“They work mechanically, too, 
and only because water expands 
when it turns to steam.” 

“This seems to do it differently,” 
he said, sipping thoughtfully at his 
dark-brown martini. “I don’t know 
exactly how — maybe something 
piezo-electric about the way its 
molecules slide about. I ran some 
tests— measured its impact energy 
in foot pounds and compared that 
with the heat loss in BTUs. 
Seemed to be about 98 per cent 
efficient, as close as I could tell. 
Apparently it converts heat into 
bounce very well. Interesting, isn’t 
it?” 

“Interesting?” I almost came fly- 
ing out of my chair. My mind was 
beginning to spin like crazy. “If 



THE BIG BOUNCE 



39 



you’re not pulling my leg with 
this thing, Farnsworth, you’ve got 
something by the tail there that’s 
just a little bit bigger than the 
discovery of fire.” 

He blushed modestly. “I’d 
rather thought that myself,” he ad- 
mitted. 

“Good Lord, look at the heat 
that’s available!” I said, getting 
really excited now. 

jC 1 ARNS WORTH was still smil- 
ing, very pleased with him- 
self. “I suppose you could put this 
thing in a box, with convection 
fins, and let it bounce around in- 
side—” 

“I’m way ahead of you,” I said. 
“But that wouldn’t work. All your 
kinetic energy would go right back 
to heat, on impact— and eventually 
that little ball would build up 
enough speed to blast its way 
through any box you could build.” 
“Then how would you work it?” 
“Well,” I said, choking down the 
rest of my rum, “you’d seal the 
ball in a big steel cylinder, attach 
the cylinder to a crankshaft and 
flywheel, give the thing a shake 
to start the ball bouncing back and 
forth, and let it run like a gaso- 
line engine or something. It would 
get all the heat it needed from 
the air in a normal room. Mount 
the apparatus in your house and it 
would pump your water, operate 
a generator and keep you cool 
at the same time!” 



I sat down again, shakily, and 
began pouring myself another 
drink. 

Farnsworth had taken the ball 
from me and was carefully putting 
it back in its padded box. He was 
visibly showing excitement, too; 
I could see that his cheeks were 
ruddier and his eyes even brighter 
than normal. “But what if you 
want the cooling and don’t have 
any work to be done?” 

“Simple,” I said. “You just let 
the machine turn a flywheel or 
lift weights and drop them, or 
something like that, outside your 
house. You have an air intake in- 
side. And if, in the winter, you 
don’t want to lose heat, you just 
mount the thing in an outside 
building, attach it to your genera- 
tor and use the power to do what- 
ever you want— heat your house, 
say. There’s plenty of heat in the 
outside air even in December.” 

“John,” said Farnsworth, “you 
are very ingenious. It might work.” 

“Of course it’ll work.” Pictures 
were beginning to light up in my 
head. “And don’t you realize that 
this is the answer to the solar 
power problem? Why, mirrors and 
selenium are, at best, ten per cent 
efficient! Think of big pumping 
stations on the Sahara! All that 
heat, all that need for power, for 
irrigation!” I paused a moment for 
effect. “Farnsworth, this can 
change the very shape of the 
Earth!” 



40 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



Farnsworth seemed to be lost 
in thought. Finally he looked at 
me strangely and said, “Perhaps 
we had better try to build a 
model.” 

T WAS so excited by the thing 
that I couldn’t sleep that night. 
I kept dreaming of power stations, 
ocean liners, even automobiles, be- 
ing operated by balls bouncing 
back and forth in cylinders. 

I even worked out a spaceship 
in my mind, a bullet-shaped af- 
fair with a huge rubber ball on 
its end, gyroscopes to keep it 
oriented properly, the ball serving 
as solution to that biggest of mis- 
sile-engineering problems, excess 
heat. You’d build a huge concrete 
launching field, supported all the 
way down to bedrock, hop in the 
ship and start bouncing. Of course 
it would be kind of a rough ride . . . 

In the morning, I called my 
superintendent and told him to get 
a substitute for the rest of the 
week; I was going to be busy. 

Then I started working in the 
machine shop in Farnsworth’s 
basement, trying to turn out a 
working model of a device that, 
by means of a crankshaft, oleo 
dampers and a reciprocating cylin- 
der, would pick up some of that 
random kinetic energy from the 
bouncing ball and do something 
useful with it, like turning a drive 
shaft. I was just working out a 
convection-and-air pump system 



for circulating hot air around the 
ball when Farnsworth came in v 

He had tucked carefully under 
his arm a sphere of about the size 
of a basketball and, if he had 
made it to my specifications, 
weighing thirty-five pounds. He 
had a worried frown on his fore- 
head. 

“It looks good,” I said. “What’s 
the trouble?” 

“There seems to be a slight 
hitch,” he said. “I’ve been testing 
for conductivity. It seems to be 
quite low.” 

“That’s what I’m working on 
now. It’s just a mechanical prob- 
lem of pumping enough warm air 
back to the ball. We can do it 
with no more than a twenty per 
cent efficiency loss. In an engine, 
that’s nothing.” 

“Maybe you’re right. But this 
material conducts heat even less 
than rubber does.” 

“The little ball yesterday didn’t 
seem to have any trouble,” I said. 

“Naturally not. It had had plen- 
ty of time to warm up before I 
started it. And its mass-surface 
area relationship was pretty low 
—the larger you make a sphere, 
of course, the more mass inside in 
proportion to the outside area.” 

“You’re right, but I think we 
can whip it. We may have to 
honeycomb the ball and have part 
of the work the machine does oper- 
ate a big hot air pump; but we 
can work it out.” 



THE BIG BOUNCE 



41 



\ LL that day, I worked with 
lathe, milling machine and 
hacksaw. After clamping the new 
big ball securely to a workbench, 
Farnsworth pitched in to help me. 
But we weren’t able to finish by 
nightfall and Farnsworth turned 
his spare bedroom over to me for 
the night. I was too tired to go 
home. 

And too tired to sleep soundly, 
too. Farnsworth lived on the edge 
of San Francisco, by a big truck 
by-pass, and almost all night I 
wrestled with the pillow and 
sheets, listening half-consciously to 
those heavy trucks rumbling by, 
and in my mind, always, that little 
gray ball, bouncing and bouncing 
and bouncing . . . 

At daybreak, I came abruptly 
fully awake with the sound of 
crashing echoing in my ears, a bat- 
tering sound that seemed to come 
from the basement. I grabbed my 
coat and pants, rushed out of the 
room, almost knocked over Farns- 
worth, who was struggling to get 
his shoes on out in the hall, and 
we scrambled down the two flights 
of stairs together. 

The place was a chaos, battered 
and bashed equipment everywhere, 
and on the floor, overturned 
against the far wall, the table that 
the ball had been clamped to. The 
ball itself was gone. 

I had not been fully asleep all 
night, and the sight of that mess, 
and what it meant, jolted me im- 



mediately awake. Something, prob- 
ably a heavy truck, had started a 
tiny oscillation in that ball. And 
the ball had been heavy enough 
to start the table bouncing with 
it until, by dancing that table 
around the room, it had literally 
torn the clamp off and shaken 
itself free. What had happened 
afterward was obvious, with the 
ball building up velocity with 
every successive bounce. 

But where was the ball now? 

Suddenly Farnsworth cried out 
hoarsely, “Look!” and I followed 
his outstretched, pudgy finger to 
where, at one side of the base- 
ment, a window had been broken 
open— a small window, but plenty 
big enough for something the size 
of a basketball to crash through 
it. 

There was a little weak light 
coming from outdoors. And then 
I saw the ball. It was in Farns- 
worth’s back yard, bouncing a little 
sluggishly on the grass. The grass 
would damp it, hold it back, until 
we could get to it. Unless . . . 

I took off up the basement steps 
like a streak. Just beyond the back 
yard, I had caught a glimpse of 
something that frightened me. A 
few yards from where I had seen 
the ball was the edge of the big 
six-lane highway, a broad ribbon 
of smooth, hard concrete. 

I got through the house to the 
back porch, rushed out and was 
in the back yard just in time to 



42 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




THE BIG BOUNCE 



43 



see the ball take its first bounce 
onto the concrete. I watched it, 
fascinated, when it hit— after the 
soft, energy absorbing turf, the 
concrete was like a springboard. 
Immediately the ball flew high in 
the air. I was running across the 
yard toward it, praying under my 
breath, Fall on that grass next 
time. 

It hit before I got to it, and 
right on the concrete again, and 
this time I saw it go straight up at 
least fifty feet. 

1%/|~Y mind was suddenly full of 
thoughts of dragging mat- 
tresses from the house, or making 
a net or something to stop that 
hurtling thirty-five pounds; but I 
stood where I was, unable to move, 
and saw it come down again on 
the highway. It went up a hun- 
dred feet. And down again on the 
concrete, about fifteen feet further 
down the road. In the direction of 
the city. 

That time it was two hundred 
feet, and when it hit again, it made 
a thud that you could have heard 
for a quarter of a mile. I could 
practically see it flatten out on 
the road before it took off upward 
again, at twice the speed it had 
hit at. 

Suddenly generating an idea, I 
whirled and ran back to Farns- 
worth’s house. He was standing in 
the yard now, shivering from the 
morning air, looking at me like a 



little lost and badly scared child. 

“Where are your car keys?” I 
almost shouted at him. 

“In my pocket.” 

“Come on!” 

I took him by the arm and half 
dragged him to the carport. I got 
the keys from him, started the car, 
and by mangling about seven traf- 
fic laws and three prize rosebushes, 
managed to get on the highway, 
facing in the direction that the ball 
was heading. 

“Look,” I said, trying to drive 
down the road and search for the 
ball at the same time. “It’s risky, 
but if I can get the car under it 
and we can hop out in time, it 
should crash through the roof. That 
ought to slow it down enough for 
us to nab it.” 

“But— what about my car?” 
Farnsworth bleated. 

“What about that first building— 
or first person— it hits in San Fran- 
cisco?” 

“Oh,” he said. “Hadn’t thought 
of that.” 

I slowed the car and stuck my 
head out the window. It was 
lighter now, but no sign of the 
ball. “If it happens to get to town 
—any town, for that matter— it’ll 
be falling from about ten or twen- 
ty miles. Or forty.” 

“Maybe it’ll go high enough first 
so that it’ll burn. Like a meteor.” 

“No chance,” I said. “Built-in 
cooling system, remember?” 

Farnsworth formed his mouth 



44 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



into an “Oh” and exactly at that 
moment there was a resounding 
thump and I saw the ball hit in 
a field, maybe twenty yards from 
the edge of the road, and take off 
again. This time it didn’t seem to 
double its velocity, and I figured 
the ground was soft enough to hold 
it back — but it wasn’t slowing 
down either, not with a bounce fac- 
tor of better than two to one. 

W/" ITHOUT watching for it to 
go up, I drove as quickly as 
I could off the road and over- 
carrying part of a wire fence with 
me— to where it had hit. There was 
no mistaking it; there was a de- 
pression about three feet deep, like 
a small crater. 

I jumped out of the car and 
stared up. It took me a few sec- 
onds to spot it, over my head. One 
side caught by the pale and slant- 
ing morning sunlight, it was only 
a bright diminishing speck. 

The car motor was running and 
I waited until the ball disappeared 
for a moment and then reappeared. 
I watched for another couple of 
seconds until I felt I could make 
a decent guess on its direction, hol- 
lered at Farnsworth to get out of 
the car— it had just occurred to 
me that there was no use risking 
his life, too— dove in and drove 
a hundred yards or so to the spot 
I had anticipated. 

I stuck my head out the win- 
dow and up. The ball was the size 



of an egg now. I adjusted the car’s 
position, jumped out and ran for 
my life. 

It hit instantly after— about six- 
ty feet from the car. And at the 
same time, it occurred to me that 
what I was trying to do was com- 
pletely impossible. Better to hope 
that the ball hit a pond, or bounced 
out to sea, or landed in a sand 
dune. All we could do would be to 
follow, and if it ever was damped 
down enough, grab it. 

It had hit soft ground and 
didn’t double its height that time, 
but it had still gone higher. It was 
out of sight for almost a lifelong 
minute. 

And then— incredibly rotten luck 
—it came down, with an ear-shat- 
tering thwack, on the concrete 
highway again. I had seen it hit, 
and instantly afterward I saw a 
crack as wide as a finger open 
along the entire width of the road. 
And the ball had flown back up 
like a rocket. 

My God, I was thinking, now it 
means business. And on the next 
bounce . . . 

It seemed like an incredibly 
long time that we craned our 
necks, Farnsworth and I, watching 
for it to reappear in the sky. And 
when it finally did, we could hard- 
ly follow it. It whistled like a 
bomb and we saw the gray streak 
come plummeting to Earth al- 
most a quarter of a mile away from 
where we were standing. 



THE BIG BOUNCE 



45 



But we didn’t see it go back up 
again. 

For a moment, we stared at each 
other silently. Then Farnsworth al- 
most whispered, “Perhaps it’s 
landed in a pond.” 

“Or in the world’s biggest cow- 
pile,” I said. “Come on!” 

We could have met our deaths 
by rock salt and buckshot that 
night, if the farmer who owned that 
field had been home. We tore up 
everything we came to getting 
across it— including cabbages and 
rhubarb. But we had to search for 
ten minutes, and even then we 
didn’t find the ball. 

What we found was a hole in 
the ground that could have been 
a small-scale meteor crater. It was 
a good twenty feet deep. But at 
the bottom, no ball. 

T STARED wildly at it for a 
full minute before I focused my 
eyes enough to see, at the bottom, 
a thousand little gray fragments. 

And immediately it came to 
both of us at the same time. A 
poor conductor, the ball had used 
up all its available heat on that 
final impact. Like a golfball that 
has been dipped in liquid air and 
dropped, it had smashed into thin 
splinters. 

The hole had sloping sides and 



I scrambled down in it and picked 
up one of the pieces, using my 
handkerchief, folded— there was no 
telling just how cold it would be. 

It was the stuff, all right. And 
colder than an icicle. 

I climbed out. “Let’s go home,” 
I said. 

Farnsworth looked at me 
thoughtfully. Then he sort of 
cocked his head to one side and 
asked, “What do you suppose will 
happen when those pieces thaw?” 

I stared at him. I began to think 
of a thousand tiny slivers whiz- 
zing around erratically, richochet- 
ing off buildings, in downtown San 
Francisco and in twenty counties, 
and no matter what they hit, mov- 
ing and accelerating as long as 
there was any heat in the air to 
give them energy. 

And then I saw a tool shed, on 
the other side of the pasture from 
us. 

But Farnsworth was ahead of 
me, waddling along, puffing. He 
got the shovels out and handed one 
to me. 

We didn’t say a word, neither 
of us, for hours. It takes a long 
time to fill a hole twenty feet deep 
—especially when you’re shoveling 
very, very carefully and packing 
down the dirt very, very hard. 

— WALTER S. TEVIS 



★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 



46 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




for 



your 

information 



BY WILLY LEY 
A CENTURY OF 
NEW ANIMALS 

T O begin somewhere, let us 
consider an utterance of a 
man who was just about 
the most famous naturalist of his 
time, namely Georges Leopold 
Chretien Frederic Dagobert, Baron 
de Cuvier. He is called both the 
Father of Paleontology and the 
Father of Comparative Anatomy, 
and during his lifetime he was 
Titular Professor at the Jardin des 
Plantes (as the Paris Zoo is still 
misleadingly called), Chancellor 



FOR YOUR INFORMATION 



47 



of the University of Paris and a 
high government official of cabinet 
rank. 

Georges Cuvier died 126 years 
ago, in 1832. Shortly before his 
death— say, around 1830— he said 
in the course of a lecture that the 
naturalists of the future would 
have to concentrate on extinct ani- 
mals, since no new discoveries of 
large living animals were to be 
expected any more. 

One might say that he was sta- 
tistically right, even if he was 
wrong otherwise. 

In the years since his death, 
several thousand species of extinct 
animals have been dug up and 
described, while only a few dozen 
large living animals have been 
discovered. And at first it must 
even have seemed as if Cuvier 
might be literally right, for two 
full decades went by without a 
noteworthy discovery. Then the 
“spell”' was broken by the Eng- 
lish traveler Hodgson who, in 
1850, reported a new large mam- 
mal from Tibet. 

It was the Takin (Budorcas 
taxicolor ), also called the Gnu 
Antelope and best described as a 
very large and heavy mountain 
goat of dull brown color. It is 
rarely seen in zoological gardens, 
and if a garden does acquire one, 
the keeper is likely to be unhappy, 
for the Takin exudes a penetrating 
and offensive smell every minute 
of its life. 



COME five years later, there 
^ came three more discoveries, 
all connected with the name of 
Pere (Father) Armand David. 
The home of all three is China 
and they were vaguely known to 
the Chinese. 

One of them was called bei- 
shun, which simply means “white 
bear” and which was said to live 
“in the mountains” — this being 
Asia, that term can cover a very 
large number of square miles. 
When Father David finally got 
hold of one, it turned out (Fig. 1) 
to be the Giant Panda ( Ailuro - 
poda melanoleucus) ; its cousin, the 
Lesser Panda, had been known for 
about half a century and was 
usually called Himalaya Raccoon. 

The second of Father David’s 
discoveries was a monkey. Its pic- 
ture was known, because Chinese 
artists had painted it on vases and 
similar items. But it had always 
been thought to be just an artistic 
convention; a monkey with such 
a wildly colored fur and such a 
“little Lulu” nose obviously could 
not exist. Father David proved 
with skins and skeletons that it did 
and the scientific name became 
Rhinopithecus roxellanae, often re- 
ferred to as the roxellana monkey 
or, sometimes, snow monkey. 

The third discovery was even 
more unusual. Father David knew, 
like everybody else, about a 
walled-in Imperial Hunting Park 
near Peking. He also knew that 



48 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



no Chinese emperor had actually 
hunted there for centuries and that 
it was strictly forbidden to enter 
it. So one day he climbed the wall 
to see the animals inside. 

Among herds of well-known 
game animals, Father David saw 
a large stag; he was sure that 
this animal was new to science. 
The Chinese called it sse-pu-hsiang 
which means “not like four” and 
is supposed to express the idea 
that the animal does not look like 
a stag, not like a horse, not like a 
cow and not like a goat. Another 
and simpler name, which became 
known later, is Milu. 

Father David obtained antlers 
and skin — probably by bribing 
the guards; he never said how he 
did it — and sent them to Paris. A 
gift of live specimens was then ar- 
ranged through diplomatic chan- 
nels and Alphonse Milne-Edwards 
in Paris gave the scientific name 
Elaphmus davidianus, popularly 
known as Pere David’s Deer (Fig. 
2 ). 

The subsequent history of Pere 
David’s Deer is one of those stories 
one would not believe if one read 
it in a novel. Pere David’s Deer 
existed only in the Imperial Hunt- 
ing Park; it had become extinct 
everywhere else centuries ago. 
Then, in 1895, there was a flood 
and a famine and the hungry peo- 
ple ate all the animals in the Im- 
perial Park. But a few specimens 
of Pere David’s Deer had been 



bought by the Duke of Bedford: 
They have turned into a large 
herd, so now the animal lives only 
in England (plus a few of the big- 
ger zoological gardens). 

A T the same time when Pere 
David’s Deer was described 
in Paris, another new animal was 
described in England in the Pro- 
ceedings of the Zoological Society. 
It was an antelope, the so-called 
Lesser Koodoo (Strepsiceros im- 
berbis) which had lived unnoticed 
in East Africa. 

Then there was a hiatus lasting 
just about a decade, until 1878, 
when another Englishman by the 
name of Waller reported a new 
gazelle from Somaliland. It was 
a rather small animal as far as 
the body went, but it had long 
legs, almost like those of a giraffe, 
and a fairly long neck. The scien- 
tific name at first became Gazella 
walleri, which was later changed 
into Litocranius (“small skull”) 
walleri. 

One year later, the zoological 
world became even more excited 
by a report from Russia. A Rus- 
sian traveler, Nikolai Mikhailo- 
vitch Przevalski, reported that he 
had found a wild horse in Central 
Asia. Not a wild ass, which were 
known to exist in quite a num- 
ber of places, not a feral horse 
(this is the term used for the wild 
offspring of animals), but actually 
a wild horse which not only had 



FOR YOUR I NFORMATION 



49 




Fig. 1: The Giant Panda 
Courtesy: Amer. Museum 
of Nat. History 



never been domesticated but had 
not even been known to exist. It 
was called Equus przevalski to the 
chagrin of all zoologists outside 
Russia, who have to learn to pro- 
nounce it as Pshe-vall-skee, with 
the accent on the vail. 

Another wild horse entered the 
zoological scene only a few years 
later, in 1882. It was not really 
meant to be a discovery; it was 
intended as an international good- 
will token. His Majesty, the Em- 
peror Menelik of Ethiopia, gave it 
as a present to the president of 
the French republic, whose name 
was Grevy. It turned out to be 
an unknown species of zebra, the 



largest of all living zebras, now 
known as Grevy’s Zebra, or Doli- 
chohippus grevy i. 

In 1888, there came a shout of 
surprise from Australia. The dis- 
covery was physically small, but 
important. Australia is the conti- 
nent of the marsupials or pouched 
mammals, but most of them were 
large enough and numerous 
enough to be quickly discovered. 
However, one had stayed unno- 
ticed underfoot — literally. It was 
Notoryctes typhlops, the marsupial 
mole. Strangely enough, its fur 
is of a golden color of remarkable 
beauty. 

The ostrich is, as everybody 



50 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



Fig. 2: The first picture of 
Pere David's Deer, published 
in France in 1866. The draw- 
ing was probably by a 
Chinese artist 




knows, the largest living bird, oc- 
curring normally in northern 
Africa. Its scientific name is Stru- 
thio camelus. In 1890, a German 
living in East Africa sent a live 
ostrich to the zoological garden 
in Berlin, with a note explaining 
that it had been caught on Massai 
territory. After a while, the experts 
felt that there was something 
somehow wrong and soon they 
put their finger on the “wrongness.” 
The African ostrich normally 
has a red or reddish neck and legs. 
That is the northern variety. The 
so-called Somali ostrich has a blu- 
ish-grey neck and legs. This one, 
though not of the northern variety, 



had a red neck and red legs. More- 
over, the lower half of the long 
neck was covered with feathers, 
though normally the whole neck 
is nearly naked. It was a new spe- 
cies and was named Massai Os- 
trich, or Struthio massaicus. 

i^\NE new bird seems to deserve 
another, and four years later 
a new and very large eaglelike 
bird was reported from the Philip- 
pines. It was said to eat mainly 
monkeys, which accounts for the 
scientific name of Pithecophaga 
(monkey-eater) jefferyi. (The 
name of the discoverer was Jef- 
fery. ) 



FOR YOUR I NFORMATION 



51 




Hard on the heels of the news Lepidoteuthis grimaldii and none 
of the monkey-eating bird came like it has been seen or caught 
a chance discovery, made by the since. 

experts on board of the yacht of I am trying to tell of these dis- 
the then Prince of Monaco. The coveries in chronological order, but 
yacht was near the Azores, where there are some difficulties, 
local fishermen had just harpooned There is a small mammal in 
one of the toothed whales. The Ecuador which measures 9 V 2 
animal was too large to be handled inches on the average, of which 
by the fishing boats and the yacht 4% inches are tail. It was first 
offered its services for towing it mentioned by R. F. Tomes in 
ashore. 1860 and he wrote that this would 

The whale was not quite dead be a shrew if it did not have a ru- 
and suddenly vomited the contents dimentary pouch. The trouble was 
of its stomach, consisting mostly that he had an immature specimen, 
of torn pieces of large octopi. In 1895, another specimen, adult 
Among these pieces there was a this time, was found and described 
damaged specimen of a seven-foot by the English zoologist Oldfield 
octopus that was completely un- Thomas. It was a New World 
known to science. It was named marsupial, closely related to ex- 



52 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



tinct forms from Patagonia, and 
also related to other fossils which 
Georges Cuvier had found near 
Paris. Its name became Caeno- 
lestes (Fig. 3) which translates as 
“new robber,” with reference to 
the old robbers of Cuvier. 

If Caenolestes failed to impress 
the layman, the next discovery, 
made in 1900, certainly did. It 
was the Okapi, a short-necked rela- 
tive of the giraffe which lives in 
the Congo Forest. Henry Stanley 
had heard of it some eight years 
earlier; the natives talked about a 
zebra in the forest. Zoologists 
snorted, for zebras do not go into 
the forest. By 1900, when pieces 
of skin came to London, it seemed 
that they had been wrong and that 
this particular zebra did. 

Two years later, skulls and com- 
plete skins became available and 
the zoologists were proved right 



again— the animal was not a zebra 
and is not even striped all overr 
It had just happened that the 
striped portions of a cut-up skin 
had become known first. 

The discovery of the Okapi 
(Fig. 4) was no doubt the greatest 
surprise since Father Armand Da- 
vid’s finds. And Africa kept sur- 
prising zoologists. 

First, in 1903, the Congo Giraffe 
came to light. It is only a “race,” 
not a species, but still one should 
not think that a giraffe could have 
been overlooked for so long. One 
year later, a very large package 
arrived in London from Captain 
Meinertzhagen of His Majesty’s 
East African Rifles, stationed in 
Kenya District. It contained an 
imperfect large black pelt and a 
perfect skull from another speci- 
men. Quickly dubbed the Giant 
Forest Hog, it was new to science 




Fig. 4: The Okapi 



Drawing by Olga Ley 




Fig. 5: The first picture of the Takohe, published in London in 1850 



(though natives had told Stanley 
about it) and merely the very 
largest species of wild pig in 
existence. Its scientific name be- 
came Hylochoerus meinertzhageni. 
A grown male measures six feet 
in length. 

In 1910, one more antelope was 
discovered by Buxton in the 
southernmost portion of Ethiopia. 
It was named Nyala buxtoni. 

rkURING the same year, a ru- 
mor from the Far East was 
confirmed. On the small island of 
Komodo, situated between the 
somewhat larger islands of Sum- 
bawa and Flores, “dragons” had 
been rumored to live. In a man- 
ner of speaking, the rumor was 
true — it was Varanus komodoen- 



sis, the largest of the generally 
large monitor lizards. The biggest 
actually measured was 1 1 feet 
8 inches long, but the natives said 
that larger ones had occasionally 
been taken away. 

In the last year of the First 
World War, another unknown 
mammal was reported from China 
for the first time, but because of 
war and revolution, not much at- 
tention was paid to it at the time. 
It was a dolphin, but one living 
in rivers. Its name became Lipotes 
vexillifer and even now not much 
is known about it. 

There followed a comparatively 
long pause of nineteen years, but 
then the year 1937 brought two 
discoveries, one from Asia and the 
other from Africa. 



54 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




The Asian discovery was nothing 
less than a species of wild cattle, 
the Kouprey ( Bos sauveli), which 
had somehow managed to live un- 
noticed in Indochina; probably 
often seen, sometimes shot, but 
unrecognized as a scientific novelty. 

The African discovery was a 
bird and it was by no means a 
chance discovery. One of the 
“okapi expeditions” had brought, 
among other things, a bundle of 
bird feathers acquired from natives 
of the Congo region by trade. 

This bundle of feathers reached 
New York in 1915 and Dr. James 
P. Chapin of the American Mu- 
seum of Natural History sorted 
them out at leisure. He could de- 
termine the origin of all the 
feathers but one, a rather large one 
which just would not fit any known 
bird. 



Years later, in 1936, Dr. Chapin 
found in the Congo Museum in 
Tervueren (near Brussels) in 
Belgium two stuffed birds. They 
were labeled “young peacocks,” 
but actually they were unknowns. 
However, they bore feathers like 
the one that could not be classified. 
Next year, Dr. Chapin shot the 
bird in the Congo district. It was 
the Congo peacock (Afropavo 
congensis ), which had been fa- 
miliar to the natives under the 
name of itundu. 

The Congo peacock is not even 
especially rare! 

If the Congo peacock was dis- 
covered by a systematic search, the 
next discovery was pure chance. 
It was the fish now known as 
Latimeria, a very strange fish in- 
deed, a so-called coelacanth which 
was rather well known as a fossil. 



FOR YOUR INFORMATION 



55 



But everybody was convinced that 
this type had become extinct some 
50 million years ago. Then one 
was caught by a fishing vessel off 
the South African East Coast in 
December 1938. It remained the 
only one for many years and the 
blame for the failure to find more 
was squarely put on the Second 
World War. 

Now we know that the zoolo- 
gists had looked in the wrong area. 
The first Latimeria had been 
caught off East London, which is a 
considerable distance to the south 
of Madagascar. For reasons not 
known, it had strayed nearly 2000 
miles from its home grounds, 
which are the waters around the 
Comores Islands between the Afri- 
can coast and the northern tip of 
Madagascar. 

"E 1 VEN around the Comores 
Islands, this fish from the dis- 
tant geological past is not frequent. 
Still, it is frequent enough for the 
islanders to have coined a special 
name for it — conbessa. Since this 
is French territory, the whole Lati- 
meria case is in French hands, 
which are indubitably capable but, 
one suspects, a bit slow. When I 
wrote a column on Latimeria in 
Galaxy (May 1956), it was 
stated that a four-volume mono- 
graph on this fish was forthcoming. 
It still is. 

Though Latimeria might be said 
to be the most important discovery 



of that century of new animals, it 
is not the end of the story. 

In 1950, the German zoologist 
Dr. Ingo Krumbiegel identified a 
new animal from its skin. It is a 
mountain wolf living in the South 
American Andes. Presumably the 
people who shot it — one South 
American dealer is said to have 
had four skins at one time— thought 
these were feral dogs. It has yet 
to be taken alive. 

And two birds were “re-dis- 
covered,” which is to say that they 
were found to be still alive, even 
though the books said they were 
extinct. One was the Bermuda 
Cahow, the other the large and 
beautifully plumaged Takahe 
( Notornis ) of the South Island of 
New Zealand (Fig. 5). 

Originally the Takahe had lived 
all over both the North and South 
Islands of New Zealand, but that 
was before white explorers, mis- 
sionaries and settlers arrived. By 
about 1800, though the North 
Island form was extinct, the some- 
what different South Island form 
was known to be still alive. 

As time went on, a few speci- 
mens came to light, all from the 
vicinity of Lake Te Anau, which 
lies inland of the New Zealand 
fjord area of the South Island 
(Fig. 6). The “last” Takahe was 
killed by a dog on August 7, 1898. 
Fortunately the owner of the dog 
saw at once what it was and saved 
the specimen for a museum. 



56 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



However, enough rumors about 
bird footprints came out of the 
area so that, in November 1948, 
Dr. Geoffrey E. Orbell led a small 
expedition to the mountains to 
the west of Lake Te Anau'. Sud- 
denly they saw a Takahe. One 
member of the expedition threw a 
net to catch it and caught two. 
They were tied up to be photo- 
graphed and then released again. 
Now the Takahe, like the Ber- 
muda Cahow, is strongly protected 
by law. 

T KNOW that I am now ex- 
pected to go and make a few 
predictions of what might still be 
discovered. I will, but before I do 
so, a quick look at some statistics 
ought to be most instructive. 

The first book that tried to sys- 
tematize all living animals was the 
Systema naturae of the Swedish 
scientist Karl von Linne, better 
known by the Latinized version of 
his name: Carolus Linnaeus. The 
tenth revised edition of his book 
(published just 200 years ago, in 
1758) is always taken to be the 
edition of the Systema naturae and 
listed 180 mammals, 450 birds, 
400 fishes and, of the insects, 600 
beetles, and not quite as many 
different moths and butterflies. 

In 1900, no less than 3500 
mammals were known (this in- 
cluded so-called geographical varia- 
tions), 13,000 birds, 5000 reptiles 
and amphibians, and about 30,000 



fishes. Among the insects, they 
counted in 1900 an almost even 
100,000 Lepidoptera (moths and 
butterflies), 30,000 Hemiptera 
(leaf hoppers, bugs, etc.), 130,000 
Coleoptera (beetles), 30,000 Dip- 
tera (flies, etc.), 40,000 Hymenop- 
tera (wasps, bees, et al.), 13,000 
Odonata (dragonflies) and so on 
and so forth. There were 20,000 
different spiders known, 8000 
worms, 50,000 molluscs (snails, 
etc.) and 3000 echinoderms like 
starfish. 

A few years before this count 
was taken, the Prussian Academy 
of Science, well supplied with 
money at the moment, decided to 
produce a modern equivalent of 
the Systema naturae, reflecting the 
zoological knowledge at the turn 
of the century. They worked brave- 
ly, producing 60 volumes of zoolo- 
gy. Then they had to give up be- 
cause one of their members, the 
zoologist R. Hesse, calculated that 
the completion of the work would 
take 270 years— provided that no 
new discoveries would be made 
during that time! 

As regards predictions, let’s start 
with the easiest place of all, the 
oceans. We know that there are 
unknown fish; they have been seen 
through the window of the bathy- 
sphere by William Beebe. They 
haven’t been taken yet, but they 
will be. 

The International Geophysical 
Year is devoting much attention 



FOR YOUR INFORMATION 



57 



to the oceans and to ocean currents 
at various layers. They are not 
specifically after the discovery of 
new fishes, but it would be most 
surprising if they did not get a 
few. 

Then, also in the oceans, there 
is the problem of the Great Sea 
Serpent (see my Galaxy columns 
for December 1956 and January 
1957), which might be a mam- 
mal. 

Thirdly, there seems to be a 
hitherto undiscovered long-necked 
and large marine turtle. 

r 1 1 AKING the continents one by 
one, nothing specifically is ru- 
mored from North America. South 
America has many rumors emanat- 
ing from it, but none specific 
enough to start theorizing. For a 
while, a kind of hunt was on for 
surviving giant sloths, but that has 
died down. Though South Ameri- 
ca will probably provide a num- 
ber of novelties in time, there is 
no way of guessing what they 
might be. Europe can also be very 
nearly written off, except for a per- 
sistent rumor about a fairly large 
unknown lizardlike animal in the 
Austrian Alps. 

Africa is a different story. There 
are rumors in quantity and they 
might very well be true. 

One is usually referred to as 
“Nandi bear” (also as chimiset, 
nunda and rnngwa — don’t ask me 
how this should be pronounced), 



which probably is not a bear but 
a man-killing mammal, possibly 
feline. 

The other is a river- or lake- 
dwelling killer of hippopotami, 
referred to as the chipekwe, or 
mokele-mbembe and, possibly, lau. 
What can be learned always has 
a few things in common— the un- 
known animal lives in fresh water, 
but can go on land. It kills hip- 
popotami, but does not eat them. 
It has a long neck. And somehow 
the impression of a reptilian na- 
ture is conveyed. 

Passing on to Asia, the main 
mystery and possible next dis- 
covery is the yeti or “abominable 
snowman” whom the Sherpas de- 
scribe as being the same size they 
are (average 5 ft. 6 in.) and cov- 
ered with long-haired but very 
thin fur of a brownish color. It 
is possible that this is actually a 
very primitive human race. Else- 
where, primitive races have been 
pushed by their less primitive 
neighbors into environments that 
the less primitive peoples did not 
want themselves. This may well 
have happened in Central Asia to 
a primitive and somewhat peculiar- 
looking human type. 

In Australia, there is one un- 
known animal that may be said 
to be almost known. It has been 
seen repeatedly in the northeast 
part of Australia, the Cape York 
Peninsula. It is rather matter-of- 
factly described as a “cat,” as large 



58 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



as a strong medium-sized dog, with 
a head resembling that of a tiger. 
It is described as striped, black 
on gray, with sharp claws and 
pointed ears. One witness saw it 
kill a kangaroo. 

The animal is obviously rare 
and its habitat restricted to a com- 
paratively small area. It could be 
either a real “cat” from the de- 
scription, a feline carnivore like a 
large lynx. Or else, which would 
be much more interesting if it 
turned out to be the case, it could 
be a marsupial carnivore like the 
Tasmanian Tiger. 

New Zealand, finally, could har- 
bor two more discoveries that 
would not be complete novelties 
because they have been rumored 
for so long. One is the Waitoreke, 
the only (but undiscovered) indi- 
genous land mammal of New Zea- 
land. I have told what is known 
about it in my column in the Oc- 
tober 1956 issue. The other, ru- 
mored from the Dusky Sound area, 
not too far from Takahe country, 
is a small Moa, the type called 
by scientists Megalapteryx. Like 
the Takahe, this Megalapteryx was 
known to the Maori and the most 
recent Moa remains known are of 
this type. Whether there are any 
left is doubtful, but not impossible. 

Well, that’s the story. Like all 
stories of discovery, it has no end, 
properly speaking, because the end 
consists of opening new vistas. 

— WILLY LEY 



STATEMENT REQUIRED BY THE ACT 
OF AUGUST 24, 1912, AS AMENDED BY 
THE ACTS OF MARCH 3, 1933, AND * 

JULY 2, 1946 (Title 39, United States Code, 
Section 2331 SHOWING THE OWNER- 
SHIP, MANAGEMENT, AND CIRCULA- 
TION OF Galaxy Science Fiction published 
monthly at New York, N. Y. for Oct. 1, 1957. 

1. The names and addresses of the pub- 
lisher, editor, managing edtior, and business 
managers are: Robert M. Guinn, 421 Hudson 
Street (14), New York City; Editor, Horace 
L. Gold, 421 Hudson Street (14) New York 
City; Managing Editor, None; Business Edi- 
tor, None. 

2. The owner is: (If owned by a corpora- 
tion, its name and address must be stated and 
also immediately thereunder the names and 
addresses of stockholders owning or holding 1 
percent or more of total amount of stock. If 
not owned by a corporation, the names and 
addresses of the individual owners must be 
given. If owned by a partnership or other un- 
incorporated firm, its name and address, as 
well as that of each individual member, must 
be given.) Galaxy Publishing Corp., 421 Hud- 
son Street (14), New York City; Robert M. 
Guinn (Sole Stockholder), 421 Hudson Street 
(14), New York City. 

3. The known bondholders, mortgaees, and 
other security holders owning or holding 1 
percent or more of total amount of bonds, 
mortgages, or other securities are: (If there 
are none, so state.) None. 

4. Paragraphs 2 and 3 include, in cases 
where the stockholder or security holder ap- 
pears upon the books of the company as trus- 
tee or in any other fiduciary relation, the 
name of the person or corporation for whom 
such trustee is acting; also the statements in 
the two paragraphs show the affiant’s full 
knowledge and belief as to the circumstances 
and conditions under which stockholders who 
do not appear upon the books of the company 
as trustees, hold stock and securities in a ca- 
pacity other than that of a bone fide owner. 

5. The average number of copies of each 
issue of this publication sold or distributed, 
through the mails or otherwise, to paid sub- 
scribers during the 12 months preceding the 
date shown above was: (This information is 
required from daily, weekly, semi- weekly, and 
triweekly newspapers only.) 

/s/ ROBERT M. GUINN 

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 26th 
day of September, 1957. 

[SEAL] 

/s/ JOAN J. DeMARIO 
Notary Public, State of New York 
No. 24-5978800 

Qualified in Kings County 
Term Expires March 30, 1958 



FOR YOUR INFORMATION 



59 



The Repairman 



By HARRY HARRISON 



Being an interstellar trouble shooter wouldn't 
be so bad ... if I could shoot the trouble! 



T HE Old Man had that look 
of intense glee on his face 
that meant someone was in 
for a very rough time. Since we 
were alone, it took no great feat 
of intelligence to figure it would be 
me. I talked first, bold attack being 
the best defense and so forth. 

“I quit. Don’t bother telling me 
what dirty job you have cooked 
up, because I have already quit 
and you do not want to reveal 
company secrets to me.” 

The grin was even wider now 
and he actually chortled as he 
thumbed a button on his console. 



A thick legal document slid out 
of the delivery slot onto his desk. 

“This is your contract,” he said. 
“It tells how and when you will 
work. A steel-and-vanadium-bound 
contract that you couldn’t crack 
with a molecular disruptor.” 

I leaned out quickly, grabbed it 
and threw it into the air with a 
single motion. Before it could fall, 
I had my Solar out and, with a 
wide-angle shot, burned the con- 
tract to ashes. 

The Old Man pressed the but- 
ton again and another contract 
slid out on his desk. If possible, 



Illustrated by KRAMER 



60 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



the smile was still wider now. 

“I should have said a duplicate 
of your contract — like this one 
here.” He made a quick note on 
his secretary plate. “I have de- 
ducted 13 credits from your salary 
for the cost of the duplicate — as 
well as a 100-credit fine for firing 
a Solar inside a building.” 

I slumped, defeated, waiting for 
the blow to land. The Old Man 
fondled my contract. 

“According to this document, 
you can't quit. Ever. Therefore I 
have a little job I know you’ll 
enjoy. Repair job. The Centauri 
beacon has shut down. It’s a Mark 
III beacon . . .” 

“What kind of beacon?” I asked 
him. I have repaired hyperspace 
beacons from one arm of the 
Galaxy to the other and was sure 
I had worked on every type or 
model made. But I had never 
heard of this kind. 

“Mark III,” the Old Man re- 
peated, practically chortling. “I 
never heard of it either until Rec- 
ords dug up the specs. They found 
them buried in the back of their 
oldest warehouse. This was the 
earliest type of beacon ever built 
— by Earth, no less. Considering 
its location on one of the Proxima 
Centauri planets, it might very 
well be the first beacon.” 

T LOOKED at the blueprints he 
handed me and felt my eyes 
glaze with horror. “It’s a mon- 



strosity! It looks more like a dis- 
tillery than a beacon — must be at 
least a few hundred meters high. 
I’m a repairman, not an archeolo- 
gist. This pile of junk is over 2000 
years old. Just forget about it and 
build a new one.” 

The Old Man leaned over his 
desk, breathing into my face. “It 
would take a year to install a new 
beacon — besides being too expen- 
sive — and this relic is on one of 
the main routes. We have ships 
making fifteen-light-year detours 
now.” 

He leaned back, wiped his hands 
on his handkerchief and gave me 
Lecture Forty-four on Company 
Duty and My Troubles. 

“This department is officially 
called Maintenance and Repair, 
when it really should be called 
trouble-shooting. Hyperspace bea- 
cons are made to last forever — 
or damn close to it. When one of 
them breaks down, it is never an 
accident, and repairing the thing 
is never a matter of just plugging 
in a new part.” 

He was telling me — the guy 
who did the job while he sat back 
on his fat paycheck in an air- 
conditioned office. 

He rambled on. “How I wish 
that were all it took! I would have 
a fleet of parts ships and junior 
mechanics to install them. But it’s 
not like that at all. I have a fleet 
of expensive ships that are 
equipped to do almost anything — 



THE REPAIRMAN 



61 



manned by a bunch of irrespon- 
sibles like you.” 

I nodded moodily at his point- 
ing finger. 

“How I wish I could fire you 
all! Combination space-jockeys, 
mechanics, engineers, soldiers, con- 
men and anything else it takes to 
do the repairs. I have to browbeat, 
bribe, blackmail and bulldoze you 
thugs into doing a simple job. If 
you think you’re fed up, just think 
how I feel. But the ships must go 
through! The beacons must oper- 
ate!” 

I recognized this deathless line 
as the curtain speech and crawled 
to my feet. He threw the Mark III 
file at me and went back to 
scratching in his papers. Just as I 
reached the door, he looked up 
and impaled me on his finger again. 

“And don’t get any fancy ideas 
about jumping your contract. We 
can attach that bank account of 
yours on Algol II long before you 
could draw the money out.” 

I smiled, a little weakly, I’m 
afraid, as if I had never meant to 
keep that account a secret. His 
spies were getting more efficient 
every day. Walking down the hall, 
I tried to figure a way to transfer 
the money without his catching 
on — and knew at the same time 
he was figuring a way to outfigure 
me. 

It was all very depressing, so 
I stopped for a drink, then went 
on to the spaceport. 



T> Y the time the ship was serv- 
iced, I had a course charted. 
The nearest beacon to the broken- 
down Proxima Centauri Beacon 
was on one of the planets of Beta 
Circinus and I headed there first, 
a short trip of only about nine days 
in hyperspace. 

To understand the importance 
of the beacons, you have to under- 
stand hyperspace. Not that many 
people do, but it is easy enough to 
understand that in this non-space 
the regular rules don’t apply. Speed 
and measurements are a matter of 
relationship, not constant facts like 
the fixed universe. 

The first ships to enter hyper- 
space had no place to go — and 
no way to even tell if they had 
moved. The beacons solved that 
problem and opened the entire uni- 
verse. They are built on planets 
and generate tremendous amounts 
of power. This power is turned 
into radiation that is punched 
through into hyperspace. Every 
beacon has a code signal as part 
of its radiation and represents a 
measurable point in hyperspace. 
Triangulation and quadrature of 
the beacons works for navigation 
— only it follows its own rules. The 
rules are complex and variable, 
but they are still rules that a navi- 
gator can follow. 

For a hyperspace jump, you 
need at least four beacons for an 
accurate fix. For long jumps, navi- 
gators use as many as seven or 



62 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



eight. So every beacon is important 
and every one has to keep operat- 
ing. That is where I and the other 
trouble-shooters came in. 

We travel in well-stocked ships 
that carry a little bit of everything; 
only one man to a ship because 
that is all it takes to operate the 
overly efficient repair machinery. 
Due to the very nature of our job, 
we spend most of our time just 
rocketing through normal space. 
After all, when a beacon breaks 
down, how do you find it? 

Not through hyper space. All you 
can do is approach as close as you 
can by using other beacons, then 
finish the trip in normal space. 
This can take months, and often 
does. 

This job didn’t turn out to be 
quite that bad. I zeroed on the 
Beta Circinus beacon and ran a 
complicated eight-point problem 
through the navigator, using every 
beacon I could get an accurate 
fix on. The computer gave me a 
course with an estimated point-of- 
arrival as well as a built-in safety 
factor I never could eliminate from 
the machine. 

I would much rather take a 
chance of breaking through near 
some star than spend time just 
barreling through normal space, 
but apparently Tech knows this, 
too. They had a safety factor built 
into the computer so you couldn’t 
end up inside a star no matter how 
hard you tried. I’m sure there was 



no humaneness in this decision. 
They just didn’t want to lose the 
ship. 

TT was a twenty -hour jump, ship’s 

time, and I came through in the 
middle of nowhere. The robot 
analyzer chuckled to itself and 
scanned all the stars, comparing 
them to the spectra of Proxima 
Centauri. It finally rang a bell and 
blinked a light. I peeped through 
the eyepiece. 

A fast reading with the photocell 
gave me the apparent magnitude 
and a comparison with its absolute 
magnitude showed its distance. 
Not as bad as I had thought— a six- 
week run, give or take a few days. 
After feeding a course tape into 
the robot pilot, I strapped into the 
acceleration tank and went to 
sleep. 

The time went fast. I rebuilt 
my camera for about the twentieth 
time and just about finished a 
correspondence course in nucleon- 
ics. Most repairmen take these 
courses. Besides their always 
coming in handy, the company 
grades your pay by the number of- 
specialties you can handle. All this, 
with some oil painting and free-fall 
workouts in the gym, passed the 
time. I was asleep when the alarm 
went off that announced planetary 
distance. 

Planet two, where the beacon 
was situated according to the old 
charts, was a mushy-looking, wet 



THE REPAIRMAN 



63 




64 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 





kind of globe. I tried to make sense 
out of the ancient directions and 
finally located the right area. Stay- 
ing outside the atmosphere, I sent 
a flying eye down to look things 
over. In this business, you learn 
early when and where to risk your 
own skin. The eye would be good 
enough for the preliminary survey. 

The old boys had enough brains 
to choose a traceable site for the 
beacon, equidistant on a line be- 
tween two of the most prominent 
mountain peaks. I located the peaks 
easily enough and started the eye 
out from the first peak and kept 
it on a course directly toward the 
second. There was a nose and tail 
radar in the eye and I fed their 
signals into a scope as an ampli- 
tude curve. When the two peaks 
coincided, I spun the eye controls 
and dived the thing down. 

I cut out the radar and cut in 
the nose orthicon and sat back to 
watch the beacon appear on the 
screen. 

The image blinked, focused — 
and a great damn pyramid swam 
into view. I cursed and wheeled 
the eye in circles, scanning the 
surrounding country. It was flat, 
marshy bottom land without a 
bump. The only thing in a ten-mile 
circle was this pyramid — and 
that definitely wasn’t my beacon. 

Or wasn’t it? 

I dived the eye lower. The 
pyramid was a crude-looking thing 
of undressed stone, without carv- 



ings or decorations. There was a 
shimmer of light from the top and 
I took a closer look at it. On the 
peak of the pyramid was a hollow 
basin filled with water. When I 
saw that, something clicked in my 
mind. 

T OCKING the eye in a circular 
course, I dug through the Mark 
III plans — and there it was. The 
beacon had a precipitating field 
and a basin on top of it for water; 
this was used to cool the reactor 
that powered the monstrosity. If 
the water was still there, the bea- 
con was still there — inside the 
pyramid. The natives, who, of 
course, weren’t even mentioned by 
the idiots who constructed the 
thing, had built a nice heavy, thick 
stone pyramid around the beacon. 

I took another look at the screen 
and realized that I had locked the 
eye into a circular orbit about 
twenty feet above the pyramid. 
The summit of the stone pile was 
now covered with lizards of some 
type, apparently the local life-form. 
They had what looked like throw- 
ing sticks and arbalasts and were 
trying to shoot down the eye, a 
cloud of arrows and rocks flying in 
every direction. 

I pulled the eye straight up and 
away and threw in the control 
circuit that would return it auto- 
matically to the ship. 

Then I went to the galley for a 
long, strong drink. My beacon was 



THE REPAIRMAN 



65 



not only locked inside a mountain 
of handmade stone, but I had 
managed to irritate the things who 
had built the pyramid. A great be- 
ginning for a job and one clearly 
designed to drive a stronger man 
than me to the bottle. 

Normally, a repairman stays 
away from native cultures. They 
are poison. Anthropologists may 
not mind being dissected for their 
science, but a repairman wants to 
make no sacrifices of any kind for 
his job. For this reason, most 
beacons are built on uninhabited 
planets. If a beacon has to go on a 
planet with a culture, it is usually 
built in some inaccessible place. 

Why this beacon had been built 
within reach of the local claws, 
I had yet to find out. But that 
would come in time. The first 
thing to do was make contact. To 
make contact, you have to know 
the local language. 

And, for that, I had long before 
worked out a system that was fool- 
proof. 

I had a pryeye of my own con- 
struction. It looked like a piece of 
rock about a foot long. Once on 
the ground, it would never be no- 
ticed, though it was a little 
disconcerting to see it float by. I 
located a lizard town about a thou- 
sand kilometers from the pyramid 
and dropped the eye. It swished 
down and landed at night in the 
bank of the local mud wallow. 
This was a favorite spot that drew 



a good crowd during the day. In 
the morning, when the first wal- 
lowers arrived, I flipped on the re- 
corder. 

After about five of the local 
days, I had a sea of native con- 
versation in the memory bank of 
the machine translator and had 
tagged a few expressions. This is 
fairly easy to do when you have 
a machine memory to work with. 
One of the lizards gargled at an- 
other one and the second one 
turned around. I tagged this ex- 
pression with the phrase, “Hey, 
George!” and waited my chance 
to use it. Later the same day, I 
caught one of them alone and 
shouted “Hey, George!” at him. 
It gurgled out through the speaker 
in the local tongue and he turned 
around. 

When you get enough reference 
phrases like this in the memory 
bank, the MT brain takes over and 
starts filling in the missing pieces. 
As soon as the MT could give a 
running translation of any conver- 
sation it heard, I figured it was 
time to make a contact. 

I” FOUND him easily enough. 

He was the Centaurian version 
of a goat-boy— he herded a par- 
ticularly loathsome form of local 
life in the swamps outside the 
town. I had one of the working 
eyes dig a cave in an outcropping 
of rock and wait for him. 

When he passed next day, I 



66 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



whispered into the mike: “Wel- 
come, O Goat-boy Grandson! This 
is your grandfather’s spirit speak- 
ing from paradise.” This fitted in 
with what I could make out of the 
local religion. 

Goat-boy stopped as if he’d been 
shot. Before he could move, I 
pushed a switch and a handful of 
the local currency, wampum-type 
shells, rolled out of the cave and 
landed at his feet. 

“Here is some money from para- 
dise, because you have been a 
good boy.” Not really from para- 
dise — I had lifted it from the 
treasury the night before. “Come 
back tomorrow and we will talk 
some more,” I called after the flee- 
ing figure. I was pleased to notice 
that he took the cash before tak- 
ing off. 

After that, Grandpa in paradise 
had many heart-to-heart talks with 
Grandson, who found the heaven- 
ly loot more than he could resist. 
Grandpa had been out of touch 
with things since his death and 
Goat-boy happily filled him in. 

I learned all I needed to know 
of the history, past and recent, and 
it wasn’t nice. 

In addition to the pyramid be- 
ing around the beacon, there was 
a nice little religious war going on 
around the pyramid. 

It all began with the land bridge. 
Apparently the local lizards had 
been living in the swamps when 
the beacon was built, but the build- 



ers didn’t think much of them. 
They were a low type and corf- 
fined to a distant continent. The 
idea that the race would develop 
and might reach this continent 
never occurred to the beacon 
mechanics. Which is, of course, 
what happened. 

A little geological turnover, a 
swampy land bridge formed in the 
right spot, and the lizards began 
to wander up beacon valley. And 
found religion. A shiny metal 
temple out of which poured a 
constant stream of magic water— 
the reactor-cooling water pumped 
down from the atmosphere con- 
denser on the roof. The radioactiv- 
ity in the water didn’t hurt the 
natives. It caused mutations that 
bred true. 

A city was built around the 
temple and, through the centuries, 
the pyramid was put up around 
the beacon. A special branch of 
the priesthood served the temple. 
All went well until one of the 
priests violated the temple and 
destroyed the holy waters. There 
had been revolt, strife, murder and 
destruction since then. But still 
the holy waters would not flow. 
Now armed mobs fought around 
the temple each day and a new 
band of priests guarded the sacred 
fount. 

And I had to walk into the 
middle of that mess and repair the 
thing. 

It would have been easy enough 



THE REPAIRMAN 



67 



if we were allowed a little may- 
hem. I could have had a lizard fry, 
fixed the beacon and taken off. 
Only “native life-forms” were quite 
well protected. There were spy 
cells on my ship, all of which I 
hadn’t found, that would cheerful- 
ly rat on me when I got back. 

Diplomacy was called for. I 
sighed and dragged out the plasti- 
flesh equipment. 

tntTORKING from 3D snaps of 
” Grandson, I modeled a pass- 
able reptile head over my own 
features. It was a little short in 
the jaw, me not having one of 
their toothy mandibles, but that 
was all right. I didn’t have to look 
exactly like them, just something 
close, to soothe the native mind. 
It’s logical. If I were an ignorant 
aborigine of Earth and I ran into 
a Spican, who looks like a two- 
foot gob of dried shellac, I would 
immediately leave the scene. How- 
ever, if the Spican was wearing a 
suit of plastiflesh that looked re- 
motely humanoid, I would at least 
stay and talk to him. This was 
what I was aiming to do with the 
Centaurians. 

When the head was done, I 
peeled it off and attached it to an 
attractive suit of green plastic, 
complete with tail. I was really 
glad they had tails. The lizards 
didn’t wear clothes and I wanted 
to take along a lot of electronic 
equipment. I built the tail over a 



metal frame that anchored around 
my waist. Then I filled the frame 
with all the equipment I would 
need and began to wire the suit. 

When it was done, I tried it on 
in front of a full-length mirror. It 
was horrible but effective. The tail 
dragged me down in the rear and 
gave me a duck-waddle, but that 
only helped the resemblance. 

That night I took the ship down 
into the hills nearest the pyramid, 
an out-of-the-way dry spot where 
the amphibious natives would 
never go. A little before dawn, the 
eye hooked onto my shoulders and 
we sailed straight up. We hovered 
above the temple at about 2,000 
meters, until it was light, then 
dropped straight down. 

It must have been a grand sight. 
The eye was camouflaged to look 
like a flying lizard, sort of a card- 
board pterodactyl, and the slowly 
flapping wings obviously had 
nothing to do with our flight. But 
it was impressive enough for the 
natives. The first one that spotted 
me screamed and dropped over on 
his back. The others came run- 
ning. They milled and mobbed 
and piled on top of one another, 
and by that time I had landed 
in the plaza fronting the temple. 
The priesthood arrived. 

I folded my arms in a regal 
stance. “Greetings, O noble serv- 
ers of the Great God,” I said. Of 
course I didn’t say it out loud, 
just whispered loud enough for 



68 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



the throat mike to catch. This 
was radioed back to the MT and 
the translation shot back to a 
speaker in my jaws. 

The natives chomped and 
rattled and the translation rolled 
out almost instantly. I had the vol- 
ume turned up and the whole 
square echoed. 

Some of the more credulous na- 
tives prostrated themselves and 
others fled screaming. One doubt- 
ful type raised a spear, but no one 
else tried that after the pterodac- 
tyl-eye picked him up and 
dropped him in the swamp. The 
priests were a hard-headed lot 
and weren’t buying any lizards in 
a poke; they just stood and mut- 
tered. I had to take the offensive 
again. 

“Begone, O faithful steed,” I 
said to the eye, and pressed the 
control in my palm at the same 
time. 

It took off straight up a bit 
faster than I wanted; little pieces 
of wind-torn plastic rained down. 
While the crowd was ogling this 
ascent, I walked through the 
temple doors. 

“I would talk with you, O noble 
priests,” I said. 

Before they could think up a 
good answer, I was inside. 

HP HE temple was a small one 
built against the base of the 
pyramid. I hoped I wasn’t break- 
ing too many taboos by going in. 



I wasn’t stopped, so it looked all 
right. The temple was a single * 
room with a murky-looking pool 
at one end. Sloshing in the pool 
was an ancient reptile who clear- 
ly was one of the leaders. I wad- 
dled toward him and he gave me 
a cold and fishy eye, then growled 
something. 

The MT whispered into my ear, 
“Just what in the name of the 
thirteenth sin are you and what 
are you doing here?” 

I drew up my scaly figure in a 
noble gesture and pointed toward 
the ceiling. “I come from your an- 
cestors to help you. I am here to 
restore the Holy Waters.” 

This raised a buzz of conversa- 
tion behind me, but got no rise 
out of the chief. He sank slowly 
into the water until only his eyes 
were showing. I could almost hear 
the wheels turning behind that 
moss-covered forehead. Then he 
lunged up and pointed a dripping 
finger at me. 

“You are a liar! You are no an- 
cestor of ours! We will—” 

“Stop!” I thundered before he 
got so far in that he couldn’t back 
out. “I said your ancestors sent me 
as emissary— I am not one of your 
ancestors. Do not try to harm me 
or the wrath of those who have 
Passed On will turn against you.” 
When I said this, I turned to 
jab a claw at the other priests, 
using the motion to cover my flick- 
ing a coin grenade toward them. 



THE REPAIRMAN 



69 



It blew a nice hole in the floor 
with a great show of noise and 
smoke. 

The First Lizard knew I was 
talking sense then and immediate- 
ly called a meeting of the shamans. 
It, of course, took place in the 
public bathtub and I had to join 
them there. We jawed and gur- 
gled for about an hour and settled 
all the major points. 

I found out that they were new 
priests; the previous ones had all 
been boiled for letting the Holy 
Waters cease. They found out I 
was there only to help them restore 
the flow of the waters. They 
bought this, tentatively, and we all 
heaved out of the tub and trickled 
muddy paths across the floor. 
There was a bolted and guarded 
door that led into the pyramid 
proper. While it was being opened, 
the First Lizard turned to me. 

“Undoubtedly you know of the 
rule,” he said. “Because the old 
priests did pry and peer, it was 
ruled henceforth that only the 
blind could enter the Holy of 
Holies.” I’d swear he was smiling, 
if thirty teeth peeking out of what 
looked like a crack in an old suit- 
case can be called smiling. 

He was also signaling to him an 
underpriest who carried a brazier 
of charcoal complete with red-hot 
irons. All I could do was stand 
and watch as he stirred up the 
coals, pulled out the ruddiest iron 
and turned toward me. He was 



just drawing a bead on my right 
eyeball when my brain got back 
in gear. 

“Of course,” I said, “blinding is 
only right. But in my case you 
will have to blind me before I 
leave the Holy of Holies, not now. 
I need my eyes to see and mend 
the Fount of Holy Waters. Once 
the waters flow again, I will laugh 
as I hurl myself on the burning 
iron.” 

TTE took a good thirty seconds 
to think it over and had to 
agree with me. The local torturer 
sniffled a bit and threw a little 
more charcoal on the fire. The gate 
crashed open and I stalked 
through; then it banged to behind 
me and I was alone in the dark. 

But not for long— there was a 
shuffling nearby and I took a 
chance and turned on my flash. 
Three priests were groping toward 
me, their eye-sockets red pits of 
burned flesh. They knew what I 
wanted and led the way without 
a word. 

A crumbling and cracked stone 
stairway brought us up to a solid 
metal doorway labeled in archaic 
script MARK 111 BEACON - 
AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL 
ONLY. The trusting builders 
counted on the sign to do the 
whole job, for there wasn’t a trace 
of a lock on the door. One lizard 
merely turned the handle and we 
were inside the beacon. 



70 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



I unzipped the front of my 
camouflage suit and pulled out 
the blueprints. With the faithful 
priests stumbling after me, I lo- 
cated the control room and turned 
on the lights. There was a residue 
of charge in the emergency bat- 
teries, just enough to give a dim 
light. The meters and indicators 
looked to be in good shape; if 
anything, unexpectedly bright 
from constant polishing. 

I checked the readings carefully 
and found just what I had sus- 
pected. One of the eager lizards 
had managed to open a circuit box 
and had polished the switches in- 
side. While doing this, he had 
thrown one of the switches and 
that had caused the trouble. 

"DATHER, that had started the 
trouble. It wasn’t going to be 
ended by just reversing the water- 
valve switch. This valve was sup- 
posed to be used only for repairs, 
after the pile was damped. When 
the water was cut off with the pile 
in operation, it had started to over- 
heat and the automatic safeties 
had dumped the charge down the 
pit. 

I could start the water again 
easily enough, but there was no 
fuel left in the reactor. 

I wasn’t going to play with the 
fuel problem at all. It would be 
far easier to install a new power 
plant. I had one in the ship that 
was about a tenth the size of the 



ancient bucket of bolts and pro-, 
duced at least four times the 
power. Before I sent for it, I 
checked over the rest of the 
beacon. In 2000 years, there 
should be some sign of wear. 

The old boys had built well, 
I’ll give them credit for that. Nine- 
ty per cent of the machinery had 
no moving parts and had suffered 
no wear whatever. Other parts 
they had beefed up, figuring they 
would wear, but slowly. The 
water-feed pipe from the roof, for 
example. The pipe walls were at 
least three meters thick— and the 
pipe opening itself no bigger than 
my head. There were some things 
I could do, though, and I made a 
list of parts. 

The parts, the new power plant 
and a few other odds and ends 
were chuted into a neat pile on 
the ship. I checked all the parts 
by screen before they were loaded 
in a metal crate. In the darkest 
hour before dawn, the heavy-duty 
eye dropped the crate outside the 
temple and darted away without 
being seen. 

I watched the priests through 
the pryeye while they tried to 
open it. When they had given up, 

I boomed orders at them through 
a speaker in the crate. They spent 
most of the day sweating the 
heavy box up through the narrow 
temple stairs and I enjoyed a 
good sleep. It was resting inside 
the beacon door when I woke up. 



THE REPAIRMAN 



71 



TP HE repairs didn’t take long, 
though there was plenty of 
groaning from the blind lizards 
when they heard me ripping the 
wall open to get at the power 
leads. I even hooked a gadget to 
the water pipe so their Holy 
Waters would have the usual re- 
freshing radioactivity when they 
started flowing again. The moment 
this was all finished, I did the job 
they were waiting for. 

I threw the switch that started 
the water flowing again. 

There were a few minutes while 
the water began to gurgle down 
through the dry pipe. Then a roar 
came from outside the pyramid 
that must have shaken its stone 
walls. Shaking my hands once over 
my head, I went down for the 
eye-burning ceremony. 

The blind lizards were waiting 
for me by the door and looked 
even unhappier than usual. When 
I tried the door, I found out why 
—it was bolted and barred from 
the other side. 

“It has been decided,” a lizard 
said, “that you shall remain here 
forever and tend the Holy Waters. 
We will stay with you and serve 
your every need.” 

A delightful prospect, eternity 
spent in a locked beacon with 
three blind lizards. In spite of their 
hospitality, I couldn’t accept. 

“What— you dare interfere with 
the messenger of your ancestors!” 
I had the speaker on full volume 



and the vibration almost shook my 
head off. 

The lizards cringed and I set 
my Solar for a narrow beam and 
ran it around the door jamb. There 
was a great crunching and bang- 
ing from the junk piled against it, 
and then the door swung free. I 
threw it open. Before they could 
protest, I had pushed the priests 
out through it. 

The rest of their clan showed up 
at the foot of the stairs and made 
a great ruckus while I finished 
welding the door shut. Running 
through the crowd, I faced up to 
the First Lizard in his tub. He 
sank slowly beneath the surface. 

“What lack of courtesy!” I 
shouted. He made little bubbles 
in the water. “The ancestors are 
annoyed and have decided to for- 
bid entrance to the Inner Temple 
forever; though, out of kindness, 
they will let the waters flow. Now 
I must return— on with the cere- 
mony!” 

The torture-master was too 
frightened to move, so I grabbed 
out his hot iron. A touch on the 
side of my face dropped a steel 
plate over my eyes, under the plas- 
tiskin. Then I jammed the iron 
hard into my phony eye-sockets 
and the plastic gave off an au- 
thentic odor. 

A cry went up from the crowd 
as I dropped the iron and stag- 
gered in blind circles. I must admit 
it went off pretty well. 



72 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



T> EFORE they could get any 
more bright ideas, I threw the 
switch and my plastic pterodactyl 
sailed in through the door. I 
couldn’t see it, of course, but I 
knew it had arrived when the 
grapples in the claws latched onto 
the steel plates on my shoulders. 

I had got turned around after 
the eye-burning and my flying 
beast hooked onto me backward. 
I had meant to sail out bravely, 
blind eyes facing into the sunset; 
instead, I faced the crowd as I 
soared away, so I made the most 
of a bad situation and threw them 
a snappy military salute. Then I 
was out in the fresh air and away. 

When I lifted the plate and 
poked holes in the seared plas- 
tic, I could see the pyramid grow- 
ing smaller behind me, water 
gushing out of the base and a hap- 
py crowd of reptiles sporting in 
its radioactive rush. I counted off 



on my talons to see if I had for- 
gotten anything. 

One: The beacon was repaired. 

Two: The door was sealed, so 
there should be no more sabotage, 
accidental or deliberate. 

Three: The priests should be 
satisfied. The water was running 
again, my eyes had been duly 
burned out, and they were back 
in business. Which added up to— 

Four: The fact that they would 
probably let another repairman 
in, under the same conditions, if 
the beacon conked out again. At 
least I had done nothing, like 
butchering a few of them, that 
would make them antagonistic 
toward future ancestral messen- 
gers. 

I stripped off my tattered lizard 
suit back in the ship, very glad 
that it would be some other re- 
pairman who’d get the job. 

—HARRY HARRISON 



The Great News Next Month . . . 

THE BIG TIME 
by Fritz Leiber 

More immense in scope than cosmos and history, here is 
the inside story of the war you aren't allowed to know 
is going on . . . the vast struggle over your live and dead 
body! Beginning in the next issue, in two thought-incit- 
ing, pulse-pounding installments, written by one of 
science fiction's greats. The Big Time is the big event of 
1 958. Don't miss it! 



THE REPAIRMAN 



73 




By FRITZ LEIBER 



The Staff of Life suddenly and 

disconcertingly sprouted wings 

— and mankind had to eat crow! 



Illustrated by WOOD 



A S a blisteringly hot but 
guaranteed weather-con- 
trolled future summer day 
dawned on the Mississippi Valley, 
the walking mills of Puffy Prod- 
ucts (“Spike to Loaf in One 
Operation!”) began to tread deli- 
cately on their centipede legs 
across the wheat fields of Kansas. 

The walking mills resembled fat 
metal serpents, rather larger than 
those Chinese paper dragons ani- 
mated by files of men in proces- 
sion. Sensory robot devices in 
their noses informed them that 
the waiting wheat had reached ripe 
perfection. 

As they advanced, their heads 
74 



swung lazily from side to side, very 
much like snakes, gobbling the yel- 
low grain. In their throats, it was 
threshed, the chaff bundled and 
burped aside for pickup by the 
crawl trucks of a chemical cor- 
poration, the kernels quick-dried 
and blown along into the mighty 
chests of the machines. There the 
tireless mills ground the kernels 
to flour, which was instantly sifted, 
the bran being packaged and 
dropped like the chaff for pickup. 

A cluster of tanks which gave 
the metal serpents a decidedly 
humpbacked appearance added 
water, shortening, salt and other 
ingredients, some named and some 

GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 







BREAD OVERHEAD 



75 



not. The dough was at the same 
time infused with gas from a tank 
conspicuously labeled “Carbon 
Dioxide” (“No Yeast Creatures 
in Your Bread!”). 

Thus instantly risen, the dough 
was clipped into loaves and shot 
into radionic ovens forming the 
midsections of the metal serpents. 
There the bread was baked in a 
matter of seconds, a fierce heat- 
front browning the crusts, and the 
piping-hot loaves sealed in trans- 
parent plastic bearing the proud 
Puffy loaf emblem (two cherubs 
circling a floating loaf) and ejected 
onto the delivery platform at each 
serpent’s rear end, where a clus- 
ter of pickup machines, like hun- 
gry piglets, snatched at the loaves 
with hygienic claws. 

A few loaves would be hur- 
ried off for the day’s consumption, 
the majority stored for winter in 
strategically located mammoth 
deep freezes. 

But now, behold a wonder! As 
loaves began to appear on the 
delivery platform of the first walk- 
ing mill to get into action, they 
did not linger on the conveyor 
belt, but rose gently into the air 
and slowly traveled off down- 
wind across the hot rippling fields. 

npHE robot claws of the pickup 
machines clutched in vain, and, 
not noticing the difference, pro- 
ceeded carefully to stack empti- 
ness, tier by tier. One errant loaf, 



rising more sluggishly than its fel- 
lows, was snagged by a thrusting 
claw. The machine paused, clum- 
sily wiped off the injured loaf, set 
it aside— where it bobbed on one 
corner, unable to take off again— 
and went back to the work of 
storing nothingness. 

A flock of crows rose from the 
trees of a nearby shelterbelt as the 
flight of loaves approached. The 
crows swooped to investigate and 
then suddenly scattered, screech- 
ing in panic. 

The helicopter of a hangoverish 
Sunday traveler bound for Wichita 
shied very similarly from the 
brown fliers and did not return for 
a second look. 

A black-haired housewife spied 
them over her back fence, crossed 
herself and grabbed her walkie- 
talkie from the laundry basket. 
Seconds later, the yawning corres- 
pondent of a regional newspaper 
was jotting down the lead of a hu- 
morous news story which, recalling 
the old flying-saucer scares, stated 
that now apparently bread was to 
be included in the mad aerial tea 
party. 

The congregation of an open- 
walled country church, standing 
up to recite the most familiar of 
Christian prayers, had just reached 
the petition for daily sustenance, 
when a sub-flight of the loaves, 
either forced down by a vagrant 
wind or lacking the natural buoy- 
ancy of the rest, came coasting si- 



76 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



lently as the sunbeams between the 
graceful pillars at the altar end of 
the building. 

Meanwhile, the main flight, now 
augmented by other bread flocks 
from scores and hundreds of walk- 
ing mills that had started work a 
little later, mounted slowly and 
majestically into the cirrus- 
flecked upper air, where a steady 
wind was blowing strongly toward 
the east. 

About one thousand miles farther 
on in that direction, where a cluster 
of stratosphere - tickling towers 
marked the location of the metrop- 
olis of NewNew York, a tender 
scene was being enacted in the 
pressurized penthouse managerial 
suite of Puffy Products. Megera 
Winterly, Secretary in Chief to the 
Managerial Board and referred to 
by her underlings as the Blonde 
Icicle, was dealing with the ad- 
vances of Roger (“Racehorse”) 
Snedden, Assistant Secretary to the 
Board and often indistinguishable 
from any passing office boy. 

“Why don’t you jump out the 
window, Roger, remembering to 
shut the airlock after you?” the 
Golden Glacier said in tones not 
unkind. “When are your high- 
strung, thoroughbred nerves going 
to accept the fact that I would 
never consider marriage with a 
business inferior? You have about 
as much chance as a starving 
Ukrainian kulak now that Mos- 
cow’s clapped on the interdict.” 



T> OGER’S voice was calm, al- 
though his eyes were fever-* 
ishly bright, as he replied, “A lot 
of things are going to be different 
around here, Meg, as soon as the 
Board is forced to admit that only 
my quick thinking made it possible 
to bring the name of Puffyloaf in 
front of the whole world.” 

“Puffyloaf could do with a little 
of that,” the business girl observed 
judiciously. “The way sales have 
been plummeting, it won’t be long 
before the Government deeds our 
desks to the managers of Fairy 
Bread and asks us to take the Big 
Jump. But just where does your 
quick thinking come into this, Mr. 
Snedden? You can’t be referring to 
the helium — that was Rose Think- 
er’s brainwave.” 

She studied him suspiciously. 
“You’ve birthed another promo- 
tional bumble, Roger. I can see it 
in your eyes. I only hope it’s not 
as big a one as when you put the 
Martian ambassador on 3D and he 
thanked you profusely for the gross 
of Puffyloaves, assuring you that 
he’d never slept on a softer mat- 
tress in all his life on two planets.” 
“Listen to me, Meg. Today — 
yes, today! — you’re going to see 
the Board eating out of my hand.” 
“Hah! I guarantee you won’t 
have any fingers left. You’re bold 
enough now, but when Mr. Gryce 
and those two big machines come 
through that door — ” 

“Now wait a minute, Meg — ” 



BREAD OVERHEAD 



77 



“Hush! They’re coming now!” 

Roger leaped three feet in the 
air, but managed to land without a 
sound and edged toward his stool. 
Through the dilating iris of the 
door strode Phineas T. Gryce, 
flanked by Rose Thinker and Tin 
Philosopher. 

The man approached the confer- 
ence table in the center of the room 
with measured pace and gravely 
expressionless face. The rose-tinted 
machine on his left did a couple 
of impulsive pirouettes on the way 
and twittered a greeting to Meg 
and Roger. The other machine qui- 
etly took the third of the high seats 
and lifted a claw at Meg, who now 
occupied a stool twice the height of 
Roger’s. 

“Miss Winterly, please — our 
theme.” 

The Blonde Icicle’s face thawed 
into a little-girl smile as she chanted 
bubblingly : 

“ Made up of tiny wheaten motes 

And reinforced with sturdy 
oats, 

It rises through the air and 
floats — 

The bread on which all Terra 
dotes!" 

64'T'HANK YOU, Miss Winter- 
ly,” said Tin Philosopher. 
“Though a purely figurative state- 
ment, that bit about rising through 
the air always gets me — here.” He 
rapped his midsection, which gave 
off a high musical clang. 



“Ladies — ” he inclined his photo- 
cells toward Rose Thinker and Meg 
—“and gentlemen. This is a historic 
occasion in Old Puffy’s long history, 
the inauguration of the helium-filled 
loaf (‘So Light It Almost Floats 
Away!’) in which that inert and 
heaven-aspiring gas replaces old- 
fashioned carbon dioxide. Later, 
there will be kudos for Rose 
Thinker, whose bright relays genius- 
sparked the idea, and also for Roger 
Snedden, who took care of the 
details. 

“By the by, Racehorse, that was 
a brilliant piece of work getting the 
helium out of the government — 
they’ve been pretty stuffy lately 
about their monopoly. But first I 
want to throw wide the casement in 
your minds that opens on the Long 
View of Things.” 

Rose Thinker spun twice on her 
chair and opened her photocells 
wide. Tin Philosopher coughed to 
limber up the diaphragm of his 
speaker and continued : 

“Ever since the first cave wife 
boasted to her next-den neighbor 
about the superior paleness and fluf- 
finess of her tortillas, mankind has 
sought lighter, whiter bread. Indeed, 
thinkers wiser than myself have 
equated the whole upward course of 
culture with this poignant quest. 
Yeast was a wonderful discovery — 
for its primitive day. Sifting the 
bran and wheat germ from the flour 
was an even more important ad- 
vance. Early bleaching and preserv- 



78 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




BREAD OVERHEAD 



79 



mg chemicals played their humble 
parts. 

“For a while, barbarous faddists 
— blind to the deeply spiritual na- 
ture of bread, which is recognized 
by all great religions — held back 
our march toward perfection with 
their hair-splitting insistence on the 
vitamin content of the wheat germ, 
but their case collapsed when taste- 
less colorless substitutes were 
triumphantly synthesized and intro- 
duced into the loaf, which for flaw- 
less purity, unequaled airiness and 
sheer intangible goodness was rap- 
idly becoming mankind’s supreme 
gustatory experience.” 

“I wonder what the stuff tastes 
like,” Rose Thinker said out of a 
clear sky. 

“I wonder what taste tastes like,” 
Tin Philosopher echoed dreamily. 
Recovering himself, he continued : 

“Then, early in the twenty-first 
century, came the epochal re- 
searches of Everett Whitehead, 
Puffyloaf chemist, culminating in 
his paper ‘The Structural Bubble 
in Cereal Masses’ and making pos- 
sible the baking of airtight bread 
twenty times stronger (for its 
weight) than steel and of a 
lightness that would have been 
incredible even to the advanced 
chemist-bakers of the twentieth 
century — a lightness so great that, 
besides forming the backbone of 
our own promotion, it has forever 
since been capitalized on by our 
conscienceless competitors of Fairy 



Bread with their enduring slogan: 
‘It Makes Ghost Toast’.” 

“That’s a beaut, all right, that 
ecto-dough blurb,” Rose Thinker 
admitted, bugging her photocells 
sadly. “Wait a sec. How about? — 
“There’ll be bread 
Overhead 

When yotfre dead — 

It is said.” 

HINEAS T. GRYCE wrinkled 
his nostrils at the pink machine 
as if he smelled her insulation 
smoldering. He said mildly, “A 
somewhat unhappy jingle, Rose, 
referring as it does to the end of 
the customer as consumer. More- 
over, we shouldn’t overplay the 
figurative ‘rises through the air’ 
angle. What inspired you?” 

She shrugged. “I don’t know — 
oh, yes, I do. I was remembering 
one of the workers’ songs we ma- 
chines used to chant during the Big 
Strike — 

“Work and pray, 

Live on hay. 

You’ll get pie 
In the sky 
When you die — 

Ifsa lie! 

“I don’t know why we chanted 
it,” she added. “We didn’t want pie 
— or hay, for that matter. And 
machines don’t pray, except Ti- 
betan prayer wheels.” 

Phineas T. Gryce shook his head. 
“Labor relations are another topic 
we should stay far away from. 




80 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



However, dear Rose, I’m glad you 
keep trying to out jingle those dirty 
crooks at Fairy Bread.” He scowled, 
turning back his attention to Tin 
Philosopher. “I get whopping mad, 
Old Machine, whenever I hear that 
other slogan of theirs, the discrim- 
inatory one— ‘Untouched by Robot 
Claws.’ Just because they employ a 
few filthy androids in their fac- 
tories!” 

Tin Philosopher lifted one of his 
own sets of bright talons. “Thanks, 
P.T. But to continue my historical 
resume, the next great advance in 
the baking art was the substitution 
of purified carbon dioxide, recov- 
ered from coal smoke, for the gas 
generated by yeast organisms in- 
dwelling in the dough and later 
killed by the heat of baking, their 
corpses remaining in situ. But even 
purified carbon dioxide is itself a 
rather repugnant gas, a product of 
metabolism whether fast or slow, 
and forever associated with those 
life processes which are obnoxious 
to the fastidious.” 

Here the machine shuddered 
with delicate clinkings. “Therefore, 
we of Puffyloaf are taking today 
what may be the ultimate step 
toward purity: we are aerating our 
loaves with the noble gas helium, 
an element which remains virginal 
in the face of all chemical tempta- 
tions and whose slim molecules are 
eleven times lighter than obese 
carbon dioxide — yes, noble uncon- 
taminable helium, which, if it be a 



kind of ash, is yet the ash only of 
radioactive burning, accomplished 
or initiated entirely on the Sun, a 
safe 93 million miles from this 
planet. Let’s have a cheer for the 
helium loaf!” 

VY / ITHOUT changing expres- 
* * sion, Phineas T. Gryce rapped 
the table thrice in solemn applause, 
while the others bowed their heads. 

“Thanks, T.P.,” P.T. then said. 
“And now for the Moment of 
Truth. Miss Winterly, how is the 
helium loaf selling?” 

The business girl clapped on a 
pair of earphones and whispered 
into a lapel mike. Her gaze grew 
abstracted as she mentally trans- 
lated flurries of brief squawks into 
coherent messages. Suddenly a sin- 
gle vertical furrow creased her 
matchlessly smooth brow. 

“It isn’t, Mr. Gryce!” she gasped 
in horror. “Fairy Bread is outsell- 
ing Puffyloaves by an infinity fac- 
tor. So far this morning, there has 
not been one single delivery of 
Puffyloaves to any sales spot! Com- 
plaints about non-delivery are pour- 
ing in from both walking stores and 
sessile shops.” 

“Mr. Snedden!” Gryce barked. 
“What bug in the new helium 
process might account for this 
delay?” 

Roger was on his feet, looking 
bewildered. “I can’t imagine, sir, 
unless — just possibly — there’s 
been some unforeseeable difficulty 



BREAD OVERHEAD 



81 



involving the new metal-foil wrap- 
pers.” 

“Metal-foil wrappers? Were you 
responsible for those?” 

“Yes, sir. Last-minute recalcula- 
tions showed that the extra light- 
ness of the new loaf might be great 
enough to cause drift during stack- 
age. Drafts in stores might topple 
sales pyramids. Metal-foil wrap- 
pers, by their added weight, took 
care of the difficulty.” 

“And you ordered them without 
consulting the Board?” 

“Yes, sir. There was hardly time 
and — ” 

“Why, you fool! I noticed that 
order for metal-foil wrappers, as- 
sumed it was some sub-secretary’s 
mistake, and canceled it last night!” 
Roger Snedden turned pale. 
“You canceled it?” he quavered. 
“And told them to go back to the 
lighter plastic wrappers?” 

“Of course! Just what is behind 
all this, Mr. Snedden? What recal- 
culations were you trusting, when 
our physicists had demonstrated 
months ago that the helium loaf 
was safely stackable in light airs 
and gentle breezes — winds up to 
Beaufort’s scale 3. Why should a 
change from heavier to lighter 
wrappers result in complete non- 
delivery?” 

"O OGER Snedden’s paleness be- 
came tinged with an interest- 
ing green. He cleared his throat 
and made strange gulping noises. 



Tin Philosopher’s photocells fo- 
cused on him calmly, Rose 
Thinker’s with unfeigned excite- 
ment. P. T. Gryce’s frown grew 
blacker by the moment, while 
Megera Winterly’s Venus-mask 
showed an odd dawning of dismay 
and awe. She was getting new 
squawks in her earphones. 

“Er . . . ah . . . er . . .” Roger 
said in winning tones. “Well, you 
see, the fact is that I . . .” 

“Hold it,” Meg interrupted 
crisply. “Triple-urgent from Public 
Relations, Safety Division. Tulsa- 
Topeka aero-express makes emer- 
gency landing after being buffeted 
in encounter with vast flight of 
objects first described as brown 
birds, although no failures reported 
in airway’s electronic anti-bird 
fences. After grounding safely near 
Emporia — no fatalities — pilot’s 
windshield found thinly plastered 
with soft white-and-brown material. 
Emblems on plastic wrappers em- 
bedded in material identify it in- 
controvertibly as an undetermined 
number of Puffyloaves cruising at 
three thousand feet!” 

Eyes and photocells turned in- 
quisitorially upon Roger Snedden. 
He went from green to Puffyloaf 
white and blurted : “All right, I did 
it, but it was the only way out! 
Yesterday morning, due to the 
Ukrainian crisis, the government 
stopped sales and deliveries of all 
strategic stockpiled materials, in- 
cluding helium gas. Puffy’s new 



82 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



program of advertising and promo- 
tion, based on the lighter loaf, was 
already rolling. There was only one 
thing to do, there being only one 
other gas comparable in lightness 
to helium. I diverted the necessary 
quantity of hydrogen gas from the 
Hydrogenated Oils Section of our 
Magna-Margarine Division and 
substituted it for the helium.” 

“You substituted . . . hydrogen 
. . . for the . . . helium?” Phineas 
T. Gryce faltered in low mechani- 
cal tones, taking four steps back- 
ward. 

“Hydrogen is twice as light . as 
helium,” Tin Philosopher remarked 
judiciously. 

“And many times cheaper — did 
you know that?” Roger countered 
feebly. “Yes, I substituted hydro- 
gen. The metal-foil wrapping would 
have added just enough weight to 
counteract the greater buoyancy of 
the hydrogen loaf. But — ” 

“So, when this morning’s loaves 
began to arrive on the delivery 
platforms of the walking mills . . .” 
Tin Philosopher left the remark 
unfinished. 

“Exactly,” Roger agreed dis- 
mally. 

“Let me ask you, Mr. Snedden,” 
Gryce interjected, still in low tones, 
“if you expected people to jump to 
the kitchen ceiling for their Puffy- 
bread after taking off the metal 
wrapper, or reach for the sky if 
they happened to unwrap the stuff 
outdoors?” 



“Mr. Gryce,” Roger said re- , 
proachfully, “you have often as- 
sured me that what people do with 
Puffybread after they buy it is no 
concern of ours.” 

“I seem to recall,” Rose Thinker 
chirped somewhat unkindly, “that 
dictum was created to answer in- 
quiries after Roger put the famous 
sculptures-in-miniature artist on 3D 
and he testified that he always 
molded his first attempts from 
Puffybread, one jumbo loaf squeez- 
ing down to approximately the size 
of a peanut.” 

TT ER photocells dimmed and 
brightened. “Oh, boy — hydro- 
gen! The loaf’s unwrapped. After 
a while, in spite of the crust-seal, a 
little oxygen diffuses in. An explo- 
sive mixture. Housewife in curlers 
and kimono pops a couple slices in 
the toaster. Boom!” 

The three human beings in the 
room winced. 

Tin Philosopher kicked her un- 
der the table, while observing, “So 
you see, Roger, that the non-deliv- 
ery of the hydrogen loaf carries 
some consolations. And I must con- 
fess that one aspect of the affair 
gives me great satisfaction, not as a 
Board Member but as a private 
machine. You have at last made a 
reality of the ‘rises through the air’ 
part of Puffybread’s theme. They 
can’t ever take that away from you. 
By now, half the inhabitants of the 
Great Plains must have observed 



BREAD OVERHEAD 



83 



our flying loaves rising high.” 

Phineas T. Gryce shot a fright- 
ened look at the west windows and 
found his full voice. 

“Stop the mills!” he roared at 
Meg Winterly, who nodded and 
whispered urgently into her mike. 

“A sensible suggestion,” Tin 
Philosopher said. “But it comes a 
trifle late in the day. If the mills 
are still walking and grinding, ap- 
proximately seven billion Puffy- 
loaves are at this moment cruising 
eastward over Middle America. 
Remember that a six-month supply 
for deep-freeze is involved and that 
the current consumption of bread, 
due to its matchless airiness, is 
eight and one-half loaves per per- 
son per day.” 

Phineas T. Gryce carefully in- 
serted both hands into his scanty 
hair, feeling for a good grip. He 
leaned menacingly toward Roger 
who, chin resting on the table, re- 
garded him apathetically. 

“Hold it!” Meg called sharply. 
“Flock of multiple-urgents coming 
in. News Liaison : information bu- 
reaus swamped with flying-bread 
inquiries. Aero-expresslines : Clear 
our airways or face law suit. U. S. 
Army: Why do loaves flame when 
hit by incendiary bullets? U. S. 
Customs: If bread intended for 
export, get export license or face 
prosecution. Russian Consulate in 
Chicago: Advise on destination of 
bread-lift. And some Kansas church 
is accusing us of a hoax inciting to 



blasphemy, of faking miracles — I 
don’t know why.” 

The business girl tore off her 
headphones. “Roger Snedden,” she 
cried with a hysteria that would 
have dumfounded her underlings, 
“you’ve brought the name of Puffy- 
loaf in front of the whole world, all 
right! Now do something about the 
situation!” 

Roger nodded obediently. But 
his pallor increased a shade, the 
puoils of his eyes disappeared un- 
der the upper lids, and his head 
burrowed beneath his forearms. 

“Oh, boy,” Rose Thinker called 
gayly to Tin Philosopher, “this 
looks like the start of a real crisis 
session! Did you remember to 
bring spare batteries?” 

TV/I" EANWHILE, the monstrous 
flight of Puffyloaves, filling 
midwestern skies as no small fliers 
had since the days of the passenger 
pigeon, soared steadily onward. 

Private fliers approached the 
brown and glistening bread-front in 
curiosity and dipped back in awe. 
Aero-expresslines organized sight- 
seeing flights along the flanks. 
Planes of the government forestry 
and agricultural services and ’cop- 
ters bearing the Puffyloaf emblem 
hovered on the fringes, watching 
developments and waiting for or- 
ders. A squadron of supersonic 
fighters hung menacingly above. 

The behavior of birds varied 
„ considerably. Most fled or gave the 



84 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



loaves a wide berth, but some 
bolder species, discovering the min- 
imal nutritive nature of the trans- 
lucent brown objects, attacked 
them furiously with beaks and 
claws. Hydrogen diffusing slowly 
through the crusts had now dis- 
tended most of the sealed plastic 
wrappers into little balloons, which 
ruptured, when pierced, with dis- 
concerting pops. 

Below, neck-craning citizens 
crowded streets and back yards, 
cranks and cultists had a field day, 
while local and national govern- 
ments raged indiscriminately at 
Puffyloaf and at each other. 

Rumors that a fusion weapon 
would be exploded in the midst of 
the flying bread drew angry protests 
from conservationists and a flood 
of telefax pamphlets titled “H-Loaf 
or H-bomb?” 

Stockholm sent a mystifying 
note of praise to the United Na- 
tions Food Organization. 

Delhi issued nervous denials of a 
millet blight that no one had heard 
of until that moment and reaf- 
firmed India's ability to feed her 
population with no outside help 
except the usual. 

Radio Moscow asserted that the 
Kremlin would brook no interfer- 
ence in its treatment of thp Ukrain- 
ians, jokingly referred to the flying 
bread as a farce perpetrated by 
mad internationalists inhabiting 
Cloud Cuckoo Land, added contra- 
dictory references to airborne 



♦ 

bread booby-trapped by Capitalist 
gangsters, and then fell moodily 
silent on the whole topic. 

Radio Venus reported to its 
winged audience that Earth’s 
inhabitants were establishing food 
depots in the upper air, prepara- 
tory to taking up permanent aerial 
residence “such as we have always 
enjoyed on Venus.” 

IVTEWNEW YORK made fever- 

^ ish preparations for the pas- 
sage of the flying bread. Tickets 
for sightseeing space in skyscrapers 
ware sold at high prices; cold meats 
and potted spreads were hawked to 
viewers with the assurance that 
they would be able to snag the 
bread out of the air and enjoy a 
historic sandwich. 

Phineas T. Gryce, escaping from 
his own managerial suite, raged 
about the city, demanding general 
cooperation in the stretching of 
great nets between the skyscrapers 
to trap the errant loaves. He was 
captured by Tin Philosopher, es- 
caped again, and was found posted 
with oxygen mask and submachine- 
gun on the topmost spire of Puffy- 
loaf Tower, apparently determined 
to shoot down the loaves as they 
appeared and before they involved 
his company in more trouble with 
Customs and the State Department. 

Recaptured by Tin Philosopher, 
who suffered only minor bullet 
holes, he was given a series of mild 
electroshocks and returned to the 



BREAD OVERHEAD 



85 




conference table, calm and clear- 
headed as ever. 

But the bread flight, swinging 
away from a hurricane moving up 
the Atlantic coast, crossed a 
clouded-in Boston by night and 
disappeared into a high Atlantic 
overcast, also thereby evading a 
local storm generated by the 
Weather Department in a last- 
minute effort to bring down or at 
least disperse the H-loaves. 

Warnings and counterwarnings 
by Communist and Capitalist gov- 
ernments seriously interfered with 
military trailing of the flight dur- 
ing this period and it was actually 
lost in touch with for several days. 

At scattered points, seagulls were 



observed fighting over individual 
loaves floating down from the gray 
roof — that was all. 

A mood of spirituality strongly 
tinged with humor seized the peo- 
ple of the world. Ministers sermon- 
ized about the bread, variously 
interpreting it as a call to charity, 
a warning against gluttony, a par- 
able of the evanescence of all 
earthly things, and a divine joke. 
Husbands and wives, facing each 
other across their walls of breakfast 
toast, burst into laughter. The 
mere sight of a loaf of bread any- 
where was enough to evoke guf- 
faws. An obscure sect, having as 
part of its creed the injunction 
“Don’t take yourself so damn se- 






86 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



-1111 




riously,” won new adherents. 

The bread flight, rising above an 
Atlantic storm widely reported to 
have destroyed it, passed unob- 
served across a foggy England and 
rose out of the overcast only over 
Mittel-europa. The loaves had at 
last reached their maximum alti- 
tude. 

The Sun’s rays beat through the 
rarified air on the distended plastic 
wrappers, increasing still further 
the pressure of the confined hydro- 
gen. They burst by the millions 
and tens of millions. A high-flying 
Bulgarian evangelist, who had hap- 
pened to mistake the up-lever for 
the east-lever in the cockpit of his 
flier and who was the sole witness 



of the event, afterward described it 
as “the foaming of a sea of dia- 
monds, the crackle of God’s 
knuckles.” 

T>Y THE millions and tens of 
millions, the loaves coasted 
down into the starving Ukraine. 
Shaken by a week of humor that 
threatened to invade even its own 
grim precincts, the Kremlin made 
a sudden about-face. A new policy 
was instituted of communal owner- 
ship of the produce of communal 
farms, and teams of hunger-fighters 
and caravans of trucks loaded with 
pumpernickel were dispatched into 
the Ukraine. 

World distribution was given to 



BREAD OVERHEAD 



87 



a series of photographs showing 
peasants queueing up to trade scav- 
enged Puffyloaves for traditional 
black bread, recently aerated itself 
but still extra solid by comparison, 
the rate of exchange demanded by 
the Moscow teams being twenty 
Puffyloaves to one of pumper- 
nickel. 

Another series of photographs, 
picturing chubby workers’ children 
being blown to bits by booby- 
trapped bread, was quietly de- 
stroyed. 

Congratulatory notes were ex- 
changed by various national gov- 
ernments and world organizations, 
including the Brotherhood of Free 
Business Machines. The great 
bread flight was over, though for 
several weeks afterward scattered 
falls of loaves occurred, giving rise 
to a new folklore of manna among 
lonely Arabian tribesmen, and in 
one well-authenticated instance in 
Tibet, sustaining life in a party of 
mountaineers cut off by a snow 
slide. 

Back in NewNew York, the 
managerial board of Puffy Prod- 
ucts slumped in utter collapse 
around the conference table, the 
long crisis session at last ended. 
Empty coffee cartons were scat- 
tered around the chairs of the three 
humans, dead batteries around 
those of the two machines. For a 
while, there was no movement 
whatsoever. Then Roger Snedden 
reached out wearily for the ear- 



phones where Megera Winterly 
had hurled them down, adjusted 
them to his head, pushed a button 
and listened apathetically. 

After a bit, his gaze brightened. 
He pushed more buttons and lis- 
tened more eagerly. Soon he was 
sitting tensely upright on his stool, 
eyes bright and lower face all 
a-smile, muttering terse comments 
and questions into the lapel mike 
torn from Meg’s fair neck. 

The others, reviving, watched 
him, at first dully, then with quick- 
ening interest, especially when he 
jerked off the earphones with a 
happy shout and sprang to his feet. 

H f ISTEN to this!” he cried in 
a ringing voice. “As a result 
of the worldwide publicity, Puffy- 
loaves are outselling Fairy Bread 
three to one — and that’s just the 
old carbon-dioxide stock from our 
freezers! It’s almost exhausted, but 
the government, now that the 
Ukrainian crisis is over, has taken 
the ban off helium and will also 
sell us stockpiled wheat if we need 
it. We can have our walking mills 
burrowing into the wheat caves in 
a matter of hours! 

“But that isn’t all! The far 
greater demand everywhere is for 
Puffyloaves that will actually float. 
Public Relations, Child Liaison 
Division, reports that the kiddies 
are making their mothers’ lives 
miserable about it. If only we can 
figure out some way to make 



88 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



hydrogen non-explosive or the 
helium loaf float just a little — ” 

“I’m sure we can take care of 
that quite handily,” Tin Philoso- 
pher interrupted briskly. “Puffy- 
loaf has kept it a corporation secret 
— even you’ve never been told 
about it — but just before he went 
crazy, Everett Whitehead discov- 
ered a way to make bread using 
only half as much flour as we do in 
the present loaf. Using this secret 
technique, which we’ve been saving 
for just such an emergency, it will 
be possible to bake a helium loaf as 
buoyant in every respect as the 
hydrogen loaf.” 

“Good!” Roger cried. “We’ll 
tether ’em on strings and sell ’em 
like balloons. No mother-child 
shopping team will leave the store 
without a cluster. Buying bread 
balloons will be the big event of 
the day for kiddies. It’ll make the 
carry-home shopping load lighter 
too! I’ll issue orders at once — ” 

TTE broke off, looking at Phineas 
T. Gryce, said with quiet 
assurance, “Excuse me, sir, if I 
seem to be taking too much upon 
myself.” 

“Not at all, son; go straight 
ahead,” the great manager said ap- 
provingly. “You’re” — he laughed 
in anticipation of getting off a 
memorable remark — “rising to the 
challenging situation like a genuine 
Puffyloaf.” 

Megera Winterly looked from 



the older man to the younger . w 
Then in a single leap she was upon 
Roger, her arms wrapped tightly 
around him. 

“My sweet little ever-victorious, 
self-propelled monkey wrench!” she 
crooned in his ear. Roger looked 
fatuously over her soft shoulder at 
Tin Philosopher who, as if moved 
by some similar feeling, reached 
over and touched claws with Rose 
Thinker. 

This, however, was what he tele- 
graphed silently to his fellow ma- 
chine across the circuit so com- 
pleted : 

“Good-o, Rosie! That makes an- 
other victory for robot-engineered 
world unity, though you almost 
gave us away at the start with that 
‘bread overhead’ jingle. We’ve 
struck another blow against the 
next world war, in which — as we 
know only too well! — we machines 
would suffer the most. Now if we 
can only arrange, say, a fur-famine 
in Alaska and a migration of long- 
haired Siberian lemmings across 
Behring Straits . . . we’d have to 
swing the Japanese Current up 
there so it’d be warm enough for 
the little fellows . . . Anyhow, 
Rosie, with a spot of help from the 
Brotherhood, those humans will 
paint themselves into the peace 
corner yet.” 

Meanwhile, he and Rose Thinker 
quietly watched the Blonde Icicle 
melt. 

— FRITZ LEIBER 



BREAD OVERHEAD 



89 



THE 

BLUE 



By EVELYN E. SMITH 



As the vastly advanced guardians 
of mankind, the Belphins knew how 
to make a lesson stick — but whom? 



Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS 



L UDOVICK Eversole sat in 
the golden sunshine out- 
side his house, writing a 
poem as he watched the street flow 
gently past him. There were very 
few people on it, for he lived in 



a slow part of town, and those who 
went in for travel generally pre- 
ferred streets where the pace was 
quicker. 

Moreover, on a sultry spring af- 
ternoon like this one, there would 



90 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



be few people wandering abroad. 
Most would be lying on sun-kissed 
white beaches or in sun-drenched 
parks, or, for those who did not 
fancy being either kissed or 
drenched by the sun, basking in 
the comfort of their own air-con- 
ditioned villas. 

Some would, like Ludovick, be 
writing poems; others composing 
symphonies; still others painting 
pictures. Those who were without 
creative talent or the inclination 
to indulge it would be relaxing 
their well-kept golden bodies in 
whatever surroundings they had 
chosen to spend this particular one 
of the perfect days that stretched 
in an unbroken line before every 
member of the human race from 
the cradle to the crematorium. 

Only the Belphins were much 
in evidence. Only the Belphins 
had duties to perform. Only the 
Belphins worked. 

Ludovick stretched his own 
well-kept golden body and rejoiced 
in the knowing that he was a man 
and not a Belphin. Immediately 
afterward, he was sorry for the 
heartless thought. Didn’t the Bel- 
phins work only to serve humani- 
ty? How ungrateful, then, it was 
to gloat over them! Besides, he 
comforted himself, probably, if the 
truth were known, the Belphins 
liked to work. He hailed a passing 
Belphin for assurance on this point. 

Courteous, like all members of 
his species, the creature leaped 



from the street and listened atten- 
tively to the young man’s ques- * 
tion. “We Belphins have but one 
like and one dislike,” he replied. 
“We like what is right and we 
dislike what is wrong.” 

“But how can you tell what is 
right and what is wrong?” Ludo- 
vick persisted. 

“We know,” the Belphin said, 
gazing reverently across the city 
to the blue spire of the tower 
where The Belphin of Belphins 
dwelt, in constant communication 
with every member of his race at 
all times, or so they said. “That is 
why we were placed in charge of 
humanity. Someday you, too, may 
advance to the point where you 
know, and we shall return whence 
we came.” 

“But who placed you in charge,” 
Ludovick asked, “and whence did 
you come?” Fearing he might seem 
motivated by vulgar curiosity, he 
explained, “I am doing research for 
an epic poem.” 

A LIFETIME spent under 
their gentle guardianship had 
made Ludovick able to interpret 
the expression that flitted across 
this Belphin’s frontispiece as a 
sad, sweet smile. 

“We come from beyond the 
stars,” he said. Ludovick already 
knew that; he had hoped for some- 
thing a little more specific. “We 
were placed in power by those who 
had the right. And the power 



THE BLUE TOWER 



91 



through which we rule is the power 
of love! Be happy!” 

And with that conventional fare- 
well (which also served as a greet- 
ing), he stepped onto the side- 
walk and was borne off. Ludovick 
looked after him pensively for a 
moment, then shrugged. Why 
should the Belphins surrender their 
secrets to gratify the idle curiosity 
of a poet? 

Ludovick packed his portable 
scriptwriter in its case and went 
to call on the girl next door, whom 
he loved with a deep and inter- 
mittently requited passion. 

As he passed between the tall 
columns leading into the Flock- 
hart courtyard, he noted with 
regret that there were quite a 
number of Corisande’s relatives 
present, lying about sunning them- 
selves and sipping beverages which 
probably touched the legal limit of 
intoxicatability. 

Much as he hated to think 
harshly of anyone, he did not like 
Corisande Flockhart’s relatives. He 
had never known anybody who 
had as many relatives as she did, 
and sometimes he suspected they 
were not all related to her. Then 
he would dismiss the thought as 
unworthy of him or any right- 
thinking human being. He loved 
Corisande for herself alone and not 
for her family. Whether they were 
actually her family or not was 
none of his business. 

“Be happy!” he greeted the as- 



semblage cordially, sitting down 
beside Corisande on the tessellated 
pavement. 

“Bah!” said old Osmond Flock- 
hart, Corisande’s grandfather. Lu- 
dovick was sure that, underneath 
his crustiness, the gnarled patri- 
arch hid a heart of gold. Although 
he had been mining assiduously, 
the young man had not yet been 
able to strike that vein; however, 
he did not give up hope, for not 
giving up hope was one of the 
principles that his wise old Bel- 
phin teacher had inculcated in 
him. Other principles were to lead 
the good life and keep healthy. 

“Now, Grandfather,” Corisande 
said, “no matter what your poli- 
tics, that does not excuse impolite- 
ness.” 

Ludovick wished she would not 
allude so blatantly to politics, be- 
cause he had a lurking notion that 
Corisande’s “family” was, in fact, 
a band of conspirators . . . such 
as still dotted the green and pleas- 
ant planet and proved by their 
existence that Man was not ad- 
vancing anywhere within measur- 
able distance of that totality of 
knowledge implied by the Belphin. 

You could tell malcontents, 
even if they did not voice their 
dissatisfactions, by their faces. The 
vast majority of the human race, 
living good and happy lives, had 
smooth and pleasant faces. Mal- 
contents’ faces were lined and 
sometimes, in extreme cases, fur- 



92 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



rowed. Everyone could easily tell 
who they were by looking at them, 
and most people avoided them. 

T T was not that griping was il- 

legal, for the Belphins permitted 
free speech and reasonable con- 
spiracy; it was that such behavior 
was considered ungenteel. Ludo- 
vick would never have dreamed of 
associating with this set of neigh- 
bors, once he had discovered their 
tendencies, had he not lost his 
heart to the purple-eyed Corisande 
at their first meeting. 

“Politeness, bah!” old Osmond 
said. “To see a healthy young man 
simply — simply accepting the 
status quo!” 

“If the status quo is a good status 
quo,” Ludovick said uneasily, for 
he did not like to discuss such sub- 
jects, “why should I not accept it? 
We have everything we could pos- 
sibly want. What do we lack?” 

“Our freedom,” Osmond re- 
torted. 

“But we are free,” Ludovick 
said, perplexed. “We can say what 
we like, do what we like, so long as 
it is consonant with the public 
good.” 

“Ah, but who determines what 
is consonant with the public 
good?” 

Ludovick could no longer tem- 
porize with truth, even for Cori- 
sande’s sake. “Look here, old man, 
I have read books. I know about 
the old days before the Belphins 



came from the stars. Men were 
destroying themselves quickly* 
through wars, or slowly through 
want. There is none of that any 
more.” 

“All lies and exaggeration,” old 
Osmond said. “My grandfather 
told me that, when the Belphins 
took over Earth, they rewrote all 
the textbooks to suit their own 
purposes. Now nothing but Bel- 
phin propaganda is taught in the 
schools.” 

“But surely some of what they 
teach about the past must be true,” 
Ludovick insisted. “And today 
every one of us has enough to eat 
and drink, a place to live, beau- 
tiful garments to wear, and all the 
time in the world to utilize as he 
chooses in all sorts of pleasant ac- 
tivities. What is missing?” 

“They’ve taken away our fron- 
tiers!” 

Behind his back, Corisande 
made a little filial face at Ludo- 
vick. 

Ludovick tried to make the old 
man see reason. “But I’m happy. 
And everybody is happy, except— 
except a few killjoys like you.” 

“They certainly did a good job 
of brainwashing you, boy,” Os- 
mond sighed. “And of most of the 
young ones,” he added mourn- 
fully. “With each succeeding gen- 
eration, more of our heritage is 
lost.” He patted the girl’s hand. 
“You’re a good girl, Corrie. You 
don’t hold with this being cared 



THE BLUE TOWER 



93 



for like some damn pet poodle.” 

“Never mind Osmond, Ever- 
sole,” one of Corisande’s alleged 
uncles grinned. “He talks a lot, 
but of course he doesn’t mean a 
quarter of what he says. Come, 
have some wine.” 

TTE handed a glass to Ludovick. 

Ludovick sipped and coughed. 
It tasted as if it were well above 
the legal alcohol limit, but he 
didn’t like to say anything. They 
were taking an awful risk, though, 
doing a thing like that. If they 
got caught, they might receive a 
public scolding — which was, of 
course, no more than they deserved 
—but he could not bear to think 
of Corisande exposed to such an 
ordeal. 

“It’s only reasonable,” the uncle 
went on, “that older people should 
have a— a thing about being gov- 
erned by foreigners.” 

Ludovick smiled and set his 
nearly full glass down on a plinth. 
“You could hardly call the Bel- 
phins foreigners; they’ve been on 
Earth longer than even the oldest 
of us.” 

“You seem to be pretty chummy 
with ’em,” the uncle said, look- 
ing narrow-eyed at Ludovick. 

“No more so than any other 
loyal citizen,” Ludovick replied. 

The uncle sat up and wrapped 
his arms around his thick bare 
legs. He was a powerful, hairy 
brute of a creature who had not 



taken advantage of the numerous 
cosmetic techniques offered by the 
benevolent Belphins. “Don’t you 
think it’s funny they can breathe 
our air so easily?” 

“Why shouldn’t they?” Ludo- 
vick bit into an apple that Cori- 
sande handed him from one of the 
dishes of fruit and other delicacies 
strewn about the courtyard. “It’s 
excellent air,” he continued through 
a full mouth, “especially now that 
it’s all purified. I understand that 
in the old days—” 

“Yes,” the uncle said, “but don’t 
you think it’s a coincidence they 
breathe exactly the same kind of 
air we do, considering they claim 
to come from another solar sys- 
tem?” 

“No coincidence at all,” said Lu- 
dovick shortly, no longer able to 
pretend he didn’t know what the 
other was getting at. He had heard 
the ugly rumor before. Of course 
sacrilege was not illegal, but it was 
in bad taste. “Only one combina- 
tion of elements spawns intelli- 
gent life.” 

“They say,” the uncle continued, 
impervious to Ludovick’s uncon- 
cealed dislike for the subject, “that 
there’s really only one Belphin, 
who lives in the Blue Tower— in a 
tank or something, because he can’t 
breathe our atmosphere— and that 
the others are a sort of robot he 
sends out to do his work for him.” 

“Nonsense!” Ludovick was 
goaded to irritation at last. “How 



94 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



could a robot have that delicate 
play of expression, that subtle 
economy of movement?” 

Corisande and the uncle ex- 
changed glances. “But they are 
absolutely blank,” the uncle be- 
gan hesitantly. “Perhaps, with 
your rich poetic imagination . . .” 
“See?” old Osmond remarked 
with satisfaction. “The kid’s brain- 
washed. I told you so.” 

^T'VEN if The Belphin is a 
single entity,” Ludovick 
went on, “that doesn’t necessarily 
make him less benevolent—” 

He was again interrupted by the 
grandfather. “I won’t listen to any 
more of this twaddle. Benevolent, 
bah! He or she or it or them is 
or are just plain exploiting us! 
Taking our mineral resources away 
—I’ve seen ’em loading ore on the 
spaceships— and— ” 

“—and exchanging it for other 
resources from the stars,” Ludo- 
vick said tightly, “without which 
we could not have the perfectly 
balanced society we have today. 
Without which we would be, tech- 
nologically, back in the dark ages 
from which they rescued us.” 
“It’s not the stuff they bring 
in from outside that runs this tech- 
nology,” the uncle said. “It’s some 
power they’ve got that we can’t 
seem to figure out. Though Lord 
knows we’ve tried,” he added mu- 
singly. 

“Of course they have their own 



source of power,” Ludovic in-' 
formed them, smiling to himself, 
for his old Belphin teacher had 
taken great care to instill a sense 
of humor into him. “A Belphin was 
explaining that to me only today.” 
Twenty heads swiveled toward 
him. He felt uncomfortable, for he 
was a modest young man and did 
not like to be the cynosure of all 
eyes. 

“Tell us, dear boy,” the uncle 
said, grabbing Ludovick’s glass 
from the plinth and filling it, “what 
exactly did he say?” 

“He said the Belphins rule 
through the power of love.” 

The glass crashed to the tes- 
serae as the uncle uttered a very 
unworthy word. 

“And I suppose it was love that 
killed Mieczyslaw and George 
when they tried to storm the Blue 
Tower—” old Osmond began, then 
halted at the looks he was getting 
from everybody. 

Ludovick could no longer pre- 
tend his neighbors were a group 
of eccentrics whom he himself was 
eccentric enough to regard as 
charming. 

“So!” He stood up and wrapped 
his mantle about him. “I knew 
you were against the government, 
and, of course, you have a legal 
right to disagree with its policies, 
but I didn’t think you were ac- 
tual-actual—” he dredged a word 
up out of his schooldays — “anar- 
chists.” 



THE BLUE TOWER 



95 




96 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




He turned to the girl, who was 
looking thoughtful as she stroked 
the glittering jewel that always 
hung at her neck. “Corisande, how 
can you stay with these—” he 
found another word— “these sub- 
versives?” 

She smiled sadly. “Don’t for- 
get: they’re my family, Ludovick, 
and I owe them dutiful respect, no 
matter how pig-headed they are.” 
She pressed his hand. “But don’t 
give up hope.” 

That rang a bell inside his brain. 
“I won’t,” he vowed, giving her 
hand a return squeeze. “I promise 
I won’t.” 

/"kUTSIDE the Flockhart villa, 
he paused, struggling with his 
inner self. It was an unworthy 
thing to inform upon one’s neigh- 
bors; on the other hand, could he 
stand idly by and let those neigh- 
bors attempt to destroy the social 
order? Deciding that the greater 
good was the more important— and 
that, moreover, it was the only way 
of taking Corisande away from all 
this— he went in search of a Bel- 
phin. That is, he waited until one 
glided past and called to him to 
leave the walk. 

“I wish to report a conspiracy 
at No. 7 Mimosa Lane,” he said. 
“The girl is innocent, but the 
others are in it to the hilt.” 

The Belphin appeared to think 
for a minute. Then he gave off a 
smile. “Oh, them,” he said. “We 



know. They are harmless.” 

“Harmless!” Ludovick repeated. 
“Why, I understand they’ve al- 
ready tried to— to attack the Blue 
Tower by force!” 

“Quite. And failed. For we are 
protected from hostile forces, as 
you were told earlier, by the power 
of love.” 

Ludovick knew, of course, that 
the Belphin used the word love 
metaphorically, that the Tower 
was protected by a series of high- 
ly efficient barriers of force to re- 
pel attackers— barriers which, he 
realized now, from the sad fate of 
Mieczyslaw and George, were po- 
tentially lethal. However, he did 
not blame the Belphin for being 
so cagy about his race’s source of 
power, not with people like the 
Flockharts running about subvert- 
ing and whatnot. 

“You certainly do have a won- 
derful intercommunication sys- 
tem,” he murmured. 

“Everything about us is won- 
derful,” the Belphin said noncom- 
mittally. “That’s why we’re so 
good to you people. Be happy!” 
And he was off. 

But Ludovick could not be hap- 
py. He wasn’t precisely sad yet, 
but he was thoughtful. Of course 
the Belphins knew better than he 
did, but still . . . Perhaps they un- 
derestimated the seriousness of the 
Flockhart conspiracy. On the other 
hand, perhaps it was he who was 
taking the Flockharts too serious- 



THE BLUE TOWER 



97 



ly. Maybe he should investigate 
further before doing anything rash. 

Later that night, he slipped over 
to the Flockhart villa and nosed 
about in the courtyard until he 
found the window behind which 
the family was conspiring. He 
peered through a chink in the cur- 
tains, so he could both see and 
hear. 

Corisande was saying, “And so 
I think there is a lot in what Lu- 
dovick said . . .” 

Bless her, he thought emotional- 
ly. Even in the midst of her plot- 
ting, she had time to spare a kind 
word for him. And then it hit him: 
she, too, was a plotter. 

“You suggest that we try to 
turn the power of love against the 
Belphins?” the uncle asked ironi- 
cally. 

Corisande gave a rippling laugh 
as she twirled her glittering pen- 
dant. “In a manner of speaking,” 
she said. “I have an idea for a 
secret weapon which might do the 
trick-” 

A T that moment, Ludovick 
stumbled over a jug which 
some careless relative had ap- 
parently left lying about the court- 
yard. It crashed to the tesserae, 
spattering Ludovick’s legs and 
sandals with a liquid which later 
proved to be extremely red wine. 

“There’s someone outside!” the 
uncle declared, half-rising. 

“Nonsense!” Corisande said, put- 



ting her hand on his shoulder. “I 
didn’t hear anything.” 

The uncle looked dubious, and 
Ludovick thought it prudent to 
withdraw at this point. Besides, he 
had heard enough. Corisande— his 
Corisande— was an integral part of 
the conspiracy. 

He lay down to sleep that night 
beset by doubts. If he told the 
Belphins about the conspiracy, he 
would be betraying Corisande. As 
a matter of fact, he now remem- 
bered, he had already told them 
about the conspiracy and they 
hadn’t believed him. But supposing 
he could convince them, how 
could he give Corisande up to 
them? True, it was the right thing 
to do— but, for the first time in his 
life, he could not bring himself 
to do what he knew to be right. 
He was weak, weak— and weak- 
ness was sinful. His old Belphin 
teacher had taught him that, too. 

As Ludovick writhed restlessly 
upon his bed, he became aware 
that someone had come into his 
chamber. 

“Ludovick,” a soft, beloved voice 
whispered, “I have come to ask 
your help . . .” It was so dark, he 
could not see her; he knew where 
was only by the glitter of the jewel 
on her neck-chain as it arced 
through the blackness. 

“Corisande . . .” he breathed. 

“Ludovick . . .” she sighed. 

Now that the amenities were 
over, she resumed, “Against my 



98 



GALAXY SCIENCE' FICTION 



will, I have been involved in the 
family plot. My uncle has invented 
a secret weapon which he believes 
will counteract the power of the 
barriers.” 

“But I thought you devised it!” 
“So it was you in the court- 
yard. Well, what happened was I 
wanted to gain time, so I said I 
had a secret weapon of my own 
invention which I had not per- 
fected, but which would cost con- 
siderably less than my uncle’s 
model. We have to watch the 
budget, you know, because we can 
hardly expect the Belphins to sup- 
ply the components for this job. 
Anyhow, I thought that, while my 
folks were waiting for me to finish 
it, you would have a chance to 
warn the Belphins.” 

“Corisande,” he murmured, “you 
are as noble and clever as you are 
beautiful.” 

HP HEN he caught the full import 
of her remarks. “Me! But they 
won’t pay any attention to me!” 
“How do you know?” When he 
remained silent, she said, “I sup- 
pose you’ve already tried to warn 
them about us.” 

“I— I said you had nothing to 
do with the plot.” 

“That was good of you.” She 
continued in a warmer tone : “How 
many Belphins did you warn, 
then?” 

“Just one. When you tell one 
something, you tell them all. You 



know that. Everyone knows that.” 
“That’s just theory,” she said. 
“It’s never been proven. All we do 
know is that they have some sort 
of central clearing house of infor- 
mation, presumably The Belphin 
of Belphins. But we don’t know 
that they are incapable of thinking 
or acting individually. We don’t 
really know much about them 
at all; they’re very secretive.” 

“Aloof,” he corrected her, “as 
befits a ruling race. But always af- 
fable.” 

“You must warn as many Bel- 
phins as you can.” 

“And if none listens to me?” 
“Then,” she said dramatically, 
“you must approach The Belphin 
of Belphins himself.” 

“But no human being has ever 
come near him!” he said plain- 
tively. “You know that all those 
who have tried perished. And that 
can’t be a rumor, because your 
grandfather said—” 

“But they came to attack The 
Belphin. You’re coming to warn 
him! That makes a big difference. 
Ludovick . . .” She took his hands 
in hers; in the darkness, the jewel 
swung madly on her presumably 
heaving bosom. “This is bigger 
than both of us. It’s for Earth.” 
He knew it was his patriotic 
duty to do as she said; still, he 
had enjoyed life so much. “Cori- 
sande, wouldn’t it be much simpler 
if we just destroyed your uncle’s 
secret weapon?” 



THE BLUE TOWER 



99 



“He’d only make another. Don’t 
you see, Ludovick, this is our only 
chance to save the Belphins, to 
save humanity . . . But, of course, 
I don’t have the right to send you. 
I’ll go myself.” 

“No, Corisande,” he sighed. “I 
can’t let you go. I’ll do it.” 

TVTEXT morning, he set out to 
^ warn Belphins. He knew it 
wasn’t much use, but it was all he 
could do. The first half dozen 
responded in much the same way 
the Belphin he had warned the 
previous day had done, by cour- 
teously acknowledging his solici- 
tude and assuring him there was 
no need for alarm; they knew all 
about the Flockharts and every- 
thing would be all right. 

After that, they started to get 
increasingly huffy— which would, 
he thought, substantiate the theory 
that they were all part of one vast 
coordinate network of identity. Es- 
pecially since each Belphin be- 
haved as if Ludovick had been 
repeatedly annoying him. 

Finally, they refused to get off 
the walks when he hailed them— 
which was unheard of, for no Bel- 
phin had ever before failed to 
respond to an Earthman’s call— 
and when he started running along 
the walks after them, they ran 
much faster than he could. 

At last he gave up and wan- 
dered about the city for hours, 
speaking to neither human nor 



Belphin, wondering what to do. 
That is, he knew what he had to 
do; he was wondering how to do 
it. He would never be able to 
reach The Belphin of Belphins. 
No human being had ever done 
it. Mieczyslaw and George had 
died trying to reach him (or it). 
Even though their intentions had 
been hostile and Ludovick’s would 
be helpful, there was little chance 
he would be allowed to reach The 
Belphin with all the other Bel- 
phins against him. What guaran- 
tee was there that The Belphin 
would not be against him, too? 

And yet he knew that he would 
have to risk his life; there was no 
help for it. He had never wanted 
to be a hero, and here he had 
heroism thrust upon him. He knew 
he could not succeed; equally well, 
he knew he could not turn back, 
for his Belphin teacher had in- 
structed him in the meaning of 
duty. 

It was twilight when he ap- 
proached the Blue Tower. Com- 
mending himself to the Infinite 
Virtue, he entered. The Belphin 
at the reception desk did not give 
off the customary smiling expres- 
sion. In fact, he seemed to radiate 
a curiously apprehensive aura. 

“Go back, young man,” he said. 
“You’re not wanted here.” 

“I must see The Belphin of Bel- 
phins. I must warn him against the 
Flockharts.” 

“He has been warned,” the re- 



100 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



ceptionist told him. “Go home and 
be happy!” 

“I don’t trust you or your 
brothers. I must see The Belphin 
himself.” 

Suddenly this particular Bel- 
phin lost his commanding manners. 
He began to wilt, insofar as so 
rigidly constructed a creature 
could go limp. “Please, we’ve done 
so much for you. Do this for us.” 

“The Belphin of Belphins did 
things for us,” Ludovick countered. 
“You are all only his followers. 
How do v I know you are really fol- 
lowing him? How do I know you 
haven’t turned against him?” 

Without giving the creature a 
chance to answer, he strode for- 
ward. The Belphin attempted to 
bar his way. Ludovick knew one 
Belphin was a myriad times as 
strong as a human, so it was out 
of utter futility that he struck. 

The Belphin collapsed com- 
pletely, flying apart in a welter of 
fragile springs and gears. The fact 
was of some deeper significance, 
Ludovick knew, but he was too 
numbed by his incredible success 
to be able to think clearly. All he 
knew was that The Belphin would 
be able to explain things to him. 

T> ELLS began to clash and 
clang. That meant the force 
barriers had gone up. He could 
see the shimmering insubstance of 
the first one before him. Squaring 
his shoulders, he charged it . . . 



and walked right through. He 
looked himself up and down. He 
was alive and entire. 

Then the whole thing was a 
fraud; the barriers were not lethal 
—or perhaps even actual. But what 
of Mieczyslaw? And George? And 
countless rumored others? He 
would not let himself even try to 
think of them. He would not let 
himself even try to think of any- 
thing save his duty. 

A staircase spiraled up ahead 
of him. A Belphin was at its foot. 
Behind him, a barrier iridesced. 

“Please, young man—” the Bel- 
phin began. “You don’t understand. 
Let me explain.” 

But Ludovick destroyed the 
thing before it could say anything 
further, and he passed right 
through the barrier. He had to get 
to the top and warn The Belphin 
of Belphins, whoever or whatever 
he (or it) was, that the Flock- 
harts had a secret weapon which 
might be able to annihilate it (or 
him). Belphin after Belphin Lu- 
dovick destroyed, and barrier after 
barrier he penetrated until he 
reached the top. At the head of the 
stairs was a vast golden door. 

“Go no further, Ludovick Ever- 
sole!” a mighty voice roared from 
within. “To open that door is to 
bring disaster upon your race.” 
But all Ludovick knew was that 
he had to get to The Belphin with- 
in and warn him. He battered 
down the door; that is, he would 



THE BLUE TOWER 



101 



have battered down the door if it 
had not turned out to be unlocked. 
A stream of noxious vapor rushed 
out of the opening, causing him to 
black out. 

When he came to, most of the 
vapor had dissipated. The Belphin 
of Belphins was already dying of 
asphyxiation, since it was, in fact, 
a single alien entity who breathed 
another combination of elements. 
The room at the head of the stairs 
had been its tank. 

“You fool . . it gasped. 
“Through your muddle-headed in- 
tegrity . . . you have destroyed not 
only me . . . but Earth’s future. 
I tried to make . . . this planet 
a better place for humanity . . . 
and this is my reward . . 

“But I don’t understand!” Ludo- 
vick wept. “Why did you let me 
do it? Why were Mieczyslaw and 
George and all the others killed? 
Why was it that I could pass the 
barriers and they could not?” 

“The barriers were triggered . . . 
to respond to hostility . . . You 
meant well ... so our defenses . . . 
could not work.” Ludovick had to 
bend low to hear the creature’s 
last words: “There is . . . Earth 
proverb . . . should have warned 
me ... ‘I can protect myself . . . 
against my enemies . . . but who 
will protect me . . . from my 
friends’ . . .?” 

The Belphin of Belphins died in 
Ludovick’s arms. He was the last 
of his race, so far as Earth was 



concerned, for no more came. If, 
as they had said themselves, some 
outside power had sent them to 
take care of the human race, then 
that power had given up the race 
as a bad job. If they were merely 
exploiting Earth, as the malcon- 
tents had kept suggesting, ap- 
parently it had proven too dan- 
gerous or too costly a venture. 

C HORTLY after The Belphin’s 
^ demise, the Flockharts arrived 
en masse. “We won’t need your 
secret weapons now,” Ludovick 
told them dully. “The Belphin of 
Belphins is dead.” 

Corisande gave one of the 
rippling laughs he was to grow to 
hate so much. “Darling, you were 
my secret weapon all along!” She 
beamed at her “relatives,” and it 
was then he noticed the faint lines 
of her forehead. “I told you I 
could use the power of love to de- 
stroy the Belphins!” And then she 
added gently: “I think there is no 
doubt who is head of ‘this family’ 
now.” 

The uncle gave a strained laugh. 
“You’re going to have a great little 
first lady there, boy,” he said to 
Ludovick. 

“First lady?” Ludovick repeated, 
still absorbed in his grief. 

“Yes, I imagine the people will 
want to make you our first Presi- 
dent by popular acclaim.” 

Ludovick looked at him through 
a haze of tears. “But I killed The 



102 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



Belphin. I didn’t mean to, but . . . 
they must hate me!” 

“Nonsense, my boy; they’ll 
adore you. You’ll be a hero!” 
Events proved him right. Even 
those people who had lived in ap- 
parent content under the Belphins, 
accepting what they were given 
and seemingly enjoying their care- 
free lives, now declared themselves 
to have been suffering in silent re- 
sentment all along. They hurled 
flowers and adulatory speeches at 
Ludovick and composed extreme- 
ly flattering songs about him. 

Shortly after he was universally 
acclaimed President, he married 
Corisande. He couldn’t escape. 

“Why doesn’t she become Presi- 
dent herself?” he wailed, when the 
relatives came and found him hid- 
ing in the ruins of the Blue Tower. 
The people had torn the Tower 
down as soon as they were sure 
The Belphin was dead and the 
others thereby hendered inoperant. 
“It would spare her a lot of 
bother.” 

“Because she is not The Bel- 
phin-slayer,” the uncle said, drag- 
ging him out. “Besides, she loves 
you. Come on, Ludovick, be a 
man.” So they hauled him off to 
the wedding and, amid much feast- 
ing, he was married to Corisande. 

TTE never drew another happy 
breath. In the first place, now 
that The Belphin was dead, all the 
machinery that had been operated 



by him stopped and no one knew 
how to fix it. The sidewalks 
stopped moving, the air condi- 
tioners stopped conditioning, the 
food synthesizers stopped synthe- 
sizing, and so on. And, of course, 
everybody blamed it all on Ludo- 
vick — even that year’s run of bad 
weather. 

There were famines, riots, 
plagues, and, after the waves of 
mob hostility had coalesced into 
national groupings, wars. It was 
like the old days again, precisely 
as described in the textbooks. 

In the second place, Ludovick 
could never forget that, when Cori- 
sande had sent him to the Blue 
Tower, she could not have been 
sure that her secret weapon would 
work. Love might not have con- 
quered all— in fact, it was the more 
likely hypothesis that it wouldn’t 
—and he would have been killed 
by the first barrier. And no hus- 
band likes to think that his wife 
thinks he’s expendable; it makes 
him feel she doesn’t really love 
him. 

So, in thirtieth year of his reign 
as Dictator of Earth, Ludovick 
poisoned Corisande— that is, had 
her poisoned, for by now he had a 
Minister of Assassination to handle 
such little matters— and married a 
very pretty, very young, very af- 
fectionate blonde. He wasn’t par- 
ticularly happy with her, either, 
but at least it was a change. 

— EVELYN E. SMITH 



THE BLUE TOWER 



103 




GALAXY'S 



5 Star Shelf 



TAKE ME TO YOUR PRESI- 
DENT by Leonard Wibberley. 
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, N. Y $3.50 

HPO established Wibberley fans 
( The Mouse that Roared, etc.) 
and neophytes alike, his new book 
will be a welcome sweet breath 
of sanity in a mad halitosic world. 

In this instance, 1960 finds the 
world in the same hot-cold frenzy. 
Now everyone knows that if only 
the leaders of the various nations 
can be brought together by an im- 
partial referee, there just isn’t any 
reason why all current problems 
can’t be solved. And that’s also the 



opinion of A-l, born Jeremy Black- 
wood in the village of Mars, near 
Leeds, England. Because of losing 
a buddy in the Normandy fighting, 
the well-loved A-l frequently holds 
forth on his favorite topic over a 
pint in the Plough and Stars. 

A-l’s chance comes completely 
inadvertantly when his unrecogniz- 
able-as-such dog gets lost near 
Britain’s secret experimental rocket 
ship. 

His military training enables 
him to sneak into the guarded area 
where his curiosity overcomes cau- 
tion after recovery of his dog. 
While he is investigating the ship, 



104 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



it suddenly takes off and lands him 
ker-plunk in a lake on an Indian 
reservation in Nevada. Since his 
clothes are lost in the ship’s flooded 
half, he has to don a weird-look- 
ing but very impressive orange- 
and-green pressure suit. 

Needless to say, all the circum- 
stances involved, plus the fact that 
he was born in Mars, tend to com- 
pound a considerable misunder- 
standing. Being no dope, A-l can 
see the strength of his position and 
the possibility of forcing a super- 
summit meeting despite the fact 
that the British Prime Minister 
knows he is a fraud. 

But don’t expect me to tell you 
more. 

You’ll enjoy this Man From 
Mars unless the cold war has 
frozen your funny-bone. 

DAHLAK by Gianni Roghi and 
F. Baschieri. Essential Books, Inc., 
N. J„ $6.00 

HP HIS account of the Italian Na- 
tional Underwater Expedition 
to the Red Sea arrived too late 
for inclusion in my watersoaked 
column a couple of months back. 
The tardiness, however, makes its 
topic unique this month, in keep- 
ing with the character of the book. 

The word “Character” is advis- 
able, for this true journal of a sci- 
entific expedition would be better 
described as an Italian sea-opera. 
Its scientist heroes emote Pagliacci- 



like over lost fish or dangerous en- 
counters and, in general, act more 
akin to Huck Finn than to Yves 
Cousteau in the unabashed won- 
der with which they approach their 
study. 

Although all the members had 
considerable undersea experience 
in the Mediterranean, the tidal 
waters of the Red Sea fill them 
with vociferous awe. This by no 
means reflects on their professional 
ability, but merely heightens their 
delightful humanness. The pages 
are virtually moist with tears over 
the necessity of death-dealing in 
scientific collection, and on the oc- 
casions when hunting became ne- 
cessary for the survival of the piti- 
fully under-financed party, the self- 
justification is almost embassrass- 
ing. 

The Red Sea is one of the 
strangest areas in the world. At 
high tide, the surface temperature 
is 97° and the atmosphere any- 
thing from 105° up in the shade. 
The sea is surrounded by the most 
arid of deserts. Even its islands 
are wastelands. 

One of the most amusing sec- 
tions of the book tells of a diver 
becoming “cockeyed” from adop- 
tion by a pilot fish which stationed 
itself within inches of his face-plate 
for an hour and refused to budge 
despite shooting, biting, grabbing, 
spitting. 

And that is the book, too — 
cockeyed but enthralling. 



★ ★★★★ SHELF 



105 



BEYOND THE FIVE SENSES, 
edited by Eileen J. Garrett. J. B. 
Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, $4.95 

j%TRS. Garrett, editor and pub- 
lisher of Tomorrow, a review 
of psychical research, is also presi- 
dent of The Parapsychology Foun- 
dation. 

Her book, a large anthologi- 
zation of articles which appeared 
in her publication, touches on such 
subjects as spirits and poltergeists, 
hypnosis, precognition and other 
ESP or related-to-ESP manifesta- 
tions. 

Interesting, if inconclusive, read- 
ing. 

HIGH SPEED FLIGHT by E. 
Ower and J. Nayler. Philosophical 
Library, N. Y., $10.00 

T¥7HEN aircraft began to ap- 
’ ’ proach the speed of sound, 
the problems of designers grew 
even faster. And there are addi- 
tional headaches unthought of only 
a few short years ago, now that 
the heat barrier has reared its hot 
head. 

Ower and Nayler are both Brit- 
ish research experts and they have 
written an authoritative survey of 
this specialized subject that is af- 
fecting us all. 

GUIDED WEAPONS by Eric 
Burgess. The Macmillan Co., N. Y ., 
$5.00 



"C 1 VEN more specialized than the 
above book, Guided Weapons 
deals solely with the military mis- 
sile. Naturally it can’t be as up-to- 
the-minute as the daily papers, but 
is excellent backgrounding for the 
otherwise confusing news releases. 

THE LAST SECRETS OF THE 
EARTH by Bernard Busson and 
Gerard Leroy. G. P. Putnam’s 
Sons, N. Y., $3.50 

TI/TESSRS. Busson and Leroy 
have just about covered the 
field concerning Earth’s present- 
day phenomenal mysteries. Being 
journalists, they have approached 
their subject matter from a pro- 
fessional angle and have produced 
a volume that professionally suc- 
ceeds in gripping the interest. 

Wisely, they have not concerned 
themselves with origins or future 
possibilities, being content to pre- 
sent the known facts and the di- 
vergent opinions of experts on 
such controversial subjects as Fly- 
ing Saucers and the Abominable 
Snowman, among others. They 
have reproduced a fantastic pho- 
tograph of a half skull, snapped 
during the London Daily Mail ex- 
pedition in 1953, that shows only 
an enormous peaked cranium with 
a coarsely hair-covered central 
ridge. 

Other chapters cover such topics 
as the unknown sea, the Earth’s 
fires, the Antarctic, the coelacanth 



106 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



as possible ancestor of our race, 
and caverns and underground 
rivers. 

THE ISOTOPE MAN by Charles 
Eric Maine. J. B. Lippincott Co., 
Phila. & N. Y., $3.00 

T IPPINCOTT has termed this 
^ a “novel of menace,” which is 
the identical tag it bestowed upon 
The Power by Frank Robinson. I 
had no desire to compare the two 
books, but it appears that the pub- 
lishers themselves are begging for 
comparison. 

Both novels employ the chase as 
plot motivater, but there similari- 
ties end. Power had just that: a 
mounting terror as the human 
quarry neared the killer. Maine 
has his hero blunder back and 
forth over the English countryside 
in pursuit of an amazingly incom- 
petent bungler who, at the start 
of the story, has already botched 
the job of murdering an atomic 
scientist so that a dupe can im- 



personate him. Maine does employ 
the interesting device of having a 
character pushed mentally seven 
seconds into the future so that he 
answers questions before they are 
asked. 

But not even that can save 
the story from the thunder and 
blunder of hero and villain alike. 

JOURNAL OF A SC1ENT1CIAN 
by Piero Modigliani. Philosophical 
Library, N. Y., $3.75 

rkR. Modigliani’s book is more 
a scrapbook of random jot- 
tings than a journal. His observa- 
tions are not limited to things sci- 
entific and have the virtue of being 
caustic yet gentle, with a fine un- 
dercoating of humor. 

Even if the doctor’s dreams 
hadn’t endeared him to me, he 
would still be a kindred spirit in 
that he, too, endures the torments 
of commuting because he loves to 
read on the train. 

— FLOYD C. GALE 




★ ★ ★ ★ ★ SHELF 



107 



TRADERS RISK 

By ROGER DEE 



Keeping this cargo meant death 
— to jettison it meant to make 
flotsam and jetsam of a world! 

Illustrated by MARTIN 



T HE Ciriimian ship was 
passing in hyperdrive 
through a classic three- 
body system, comprising in this 
case a fiercely white sun circled 
by a fainter companion and a 
single planet that swung in pre- 
cise balance, when the Canthorian 
Zid broke out of its cage in the 
specimen hold. 

Of the ship’s social quartet, 
Chafis One and Two were asleep 



at the moment, dreaming wistful 
dreams of conical Ciriimian cities 
spearing up to a soft and plum- 
colored sky. The Zid raged into 
their communal rest cell, smashed 
them down from their gymbaled 
sleeping perches and, with the 
ravening blood-hunger of its kind, 
devoured them before they could 
wake enough to teleport to 
safety. 

Chafis Three and Four, on psi 



108 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



shift in the forward control cubi- 
cle, might have fallen as easily 
if the mental screamings of their 
fellows had not warned them in 
time. As it was, they had barely 
time to teleport themselves to 
the after hold, as far as possible 
from immediate danger, and to con- 
sider the issue while the Zid 
lunged about the ship in search 
of them with malignant cries 
and a great shrieking of claws on 
metal. 

Their case was the more des- 
perate because the Chafis were pro- 
fessional freighters with little ex- 
perience of emergency. Hauling a 
Zid from Canthorian jungles to 
a Ciriimian zoo was a prosaic 
enough assignment so long as the 
cage held, but with the raging 
brute swiftly smelling them out, 
they were helpless to catch and 
restrain it. 

When the Zid found them, they 
had no other course but to tele- 
port back to the control cubicle 
and wait until the beast should 
snuff them down again. The Zid 
learned quickly, so quickly that 
it was soon clear that its physical 
strength would far outlast their 
considerable but limited teleki- 
netic ability. 

Still they possessed their share 
of owlish Ciriimian logic and hit 
soon enough upon the one prac- 
tical course — to jettison the Zid 
on the nearest world demonstrably 
free of intelligent life. 



r T'HEY worked hurriedly, be- 
tween jumps fore and aft. 
Chafi Three, while they were still 
in the control cubicle, threw the 
ship out of hyperdrive within 
scant miles of the neighboring 
sun’s single planet. Chafi Four, 
on the next jump, scanned the 
ship’s charts and identified the 
system through which they 
traveled. 

Luck was with them. The sys- 
tem had been catalogued some 
fbur Ciriimian generations before 
and tagged: Planet undeveloped. 
Tranquil marine intelligences 
only. 

The discovery relieved them 
greatly for the reason that no 
Ciriimian, even to save his own 
feathered skin, would have set 
down such a monster as the Zid 
among rational but vulnerable 
entities. 

The planet was a water world, 
bare of continents and only 
sparsely sprinkled with minor 
archipelagoes. The islands suited 
the Chafis’ purpose admirably. 

“The Zid does not swim,” Chafi 
Four radiated. “Marooned, it can 
do no harm to marine intelli- 
gences.” 

“Also,” Chafi Three pointed out 
as they dodged to the control 
cubicle again just ahead of the 
slavering Zid, “we may return 
later with a Canthorian hunting 
party and recover our invest- 
ment,” 



TRADERS RISK 



109 



Closing their perception against 
the Zid’s distracting ragings, they 
set to work with perfect coordina- 
tion. 

Chafi Three set down the ship 
on an island that was only one 
of a freckling chain of similar 
islands. Chafi Four projected him- 
self first to the opened port; then, 
when the Zid charged after him, 
to the herbivore-cropped sward 
of tropical setting outside. 

The Zid lunged out. Chafi Four 
teleported inside again. Chafi 
Three closed the port. Together 
they relaxed their perception 
shields in relief — 

Unaware in their consternation 
that they committed the barbar- 
ous lapse of vocalizing, they 
twittered aloud when they rea- 
lized the extent of their error. 

Above the far, murmurous 
whisper of expected marine cere- 
bration there rose an uncoordi- 
nated mishmash of thought from 
at least two strong and relatively 
complex intelligences. 

“Gas - breathing!” Chafi Four 
said unbelievingly. “Warm- 
blooded, land-dwelling, mamma- 
lian!” 

“A Class Five culture,” Chafi 
agreed shakenly. His aura quiv- 
ered with the shock of betrayal. 
“The catalogue was wrong.” 

Ironically, their problem was 
more pressing now than before. 
Unless checked, the Zid would 
rapidly depopulate the island — 



and, to check it, they must break 
a prime rule of Galactic protocol 
in asking the help of a new and 
untested species. 

But they had no choice. They 
teleported at once into the pres- 
ence of the two nearby natives — 
and met with frustration beyond 
Ciriimian experience. 

J EFF Aubray glimpsed the Ciri- 
imian ship’s landing because 
the morning was a Oneday, and 
on Onedays his mission to the 
island demanded that he be up 
and about at sunrise. 

For two reasons: On Onedays, 
through some unfailing miracle 
of Calaxian seamanship, old 
Charlie Mack sailed down in his 
ancient Island Queen from the 
township that represented colo- 
nial Terran civilization in Procy- 
nian Archipelago 147, bringing 
supplies and gossip to last Jeff 
through the following Tenday. 
The Queen would dock at Jeff’s 
little pier at dawn; she was never 
late. 

Also on Onedays, necessarily 
before Charlie Mack’s visit, Jeff 
must assemble his smuggled com- 
municator — kept dismantled and 
hidden from suspicious local eyes 
— and report to Earth Interests 
Consulate his progress during the 
cycle just ended. The ungodly 
hour of transmission, naturally, 
was set to coincide with the clos- 
ing of the Consul’s field office 



110 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



halfway around the planet. 

So the nacreous glory of Pro- 
cyon’s rising was just tinting the 
windows of Jeff’s cottage when 
he aligned and activated his little 
communicator on his breakfast 
table. Its three-inch screen lighted 
to signal and a dour and disap- 
pointed Consul Satterfield looked 
at him. Behind Satterfield, fore- 
shortened to gnomishness by the 
pickup, lurked Dr. Hermann, 
Earth Interests’ resident zoologist. 

“No progress,” Jeff reported, 
“except that the few islanders 
I’ve met seem to be accepting 
me at last. A little more time and 
they might let me into the Town- 
ship, where I can learn something. 
If Homeside — ” 

“You’ve had seven Tendays,” 
Satterfield said. “Homeside won’t 
wait longer, Aubray. They need 
those calm-crystals too badly.” 
“They’ll use force?” Jeff had 
considered the possibility, but its 
immediacy appalled him. “Sir, 
these colonists had been autono- 
mous for over two hundred years, 
ever since the Fourth War cut 
them off from us. Will Homeside 
deny their independence?” 

His sense of loss at Satterfield’s 
grim nod stemmed from some- 
thing deeper than sympathy for 
the islanders. It found roots in 
his daily rambles over the little 
island granted him by the Town- 
ship for the painting he had be- 
gun as a blind to his assignment, 



and in the gossip of old Charlie 
Mack and the few others he had 
met. He had learned to appre- 
ciate the easy life of the islands 
well enough to be dismayed now 
by what must happen under El 
pressure to old Charlie and his 
handful of sunbrowned fisherfolk. 

TTNEXPECTEDLY, because 
^ Jeff had not considered that 
it might matter, he was disturbed 
by the realization that he would- 
n’t be seeing Jennifer, old Charlie 
Mack’s red-haired niece, once oc- 
cupation began. Jennifer, who 
sailed with her uncle and did a 
crewman’s work as a matter of 
course, would despise the sight 
of him. 

The Consul’s pessimism jolted 
Jeff back to the moment at hand. 

“Homeside will deny their 
autonomy, Aubray. I’ve had a 
warp-beam message today order- 
ing me to move in.” 

The situation was desperate 
enough at home, Jeff had to ad- 
mit. Calaxian calm-crystals did 
what no refinement of Terran 
therapeutics had been able to 
manage. They erased the fears 
of the neurotic and calmed the 
quiverings of the hypertensive — 
both in alarming majority in the 
shattering aftermath of the Fourth 
War — with no adverse effects 
at all. Permanent benefit was slow 
but cumulative, offering for the 
first time a real step toward ulti- 



TRADERS RISK 



111 



mate stability. The medical, psy- 
chiatric and political fields cried 
out for crystals and more crystals. 

“If the islanders would tell us 
their source and let us help de- 
velop it,” Satterfield said peevish- 
ly, “instead of doling out a hand- 
ful of crystals every Tenday, there 
wouldn’t be any need of action. 
Homeside feels they’re just let- 
ting us have some of the surplus.” 

“Not likely,” Jeff said. “They 
don’t use the crystals themselves.” 

Old Dr. Hermann put his chin 
almost on the Consul’s shoulder 
to present his wizened face to 
the scanner. 

“Of course they don’t,” he said. 
“On an uncomplicated, even 
simple-minded world like this, 
who would need crystals? But 
maybe they fear glutting the 
market or the domination of out- 
side capital coming in to develop 
the source. When people back- 
slide, there’s no telling what’s on 
their minds and we have no time 
to waste negotiating or convinc- 
ing them. In any case, how could 
they stop us from moving in?” 
Abruptly he switched to his own 
interest. “Aubray, have you 
learned anything new about the 
Scoops?” 

“Nothing beyond the fact that 
the islanders don’t talk about 
them,” Jeff said. “I’ve seen per- 
haps a dozen offshore during the 
seven cycles I’ve been here. One 
usually surfaces outside my har- 



bor at about the time old Charlie 
Mack’s supply boat comes in.” 

Thinking of Charlie Mack 
brought a forced end to his re- 
port. “Charlie’s due now. I’ll call 
back later.” 

He cut the circuit, hurrying 
to have his communicator stowed 
away before old Charlie’s arrival 
— not, he thought bitterly, that 
being found out now would make 
any great difference. 

STEPPING out into the brief 
^ Calaxian dawn, he caught his 
glimpse of the Ciriimian ship’s 
landing before the island forest 
of palm-ferns cut it off from sight. 
Homeside hadn’t been bluffing, 
he thought, assuming as a matter 
of course that this was the task 
force Satterfield had been ordered 
to send. 

“They didn’t waste any time,” 
Jeff growled. “Damn them.” 

He ignored the inevitable glory 
of morning rainbow that just pre- 
ceded Procyon’s rising and strode 
irritably down to his miniature 
dock. He was still scowling over 
what he should tell Charlie Mack 
when the Island Queen hove into 
view. 

She was a pretty sight. There 
was an artist’s perception in Jeff 
in spite of his drab years of El 
patrol duty; the white puff of 
sail on dark-green sea, gliding 
across calm water banded with 
lighter and darker striae where 



112 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



submerged shoals lay, struck 
something responsive in him. The 
comparison it forced between 
Calaxia and Earth, whose yawning 
Fourth War scars and heritage of 
anxieties made calm-crystals so 
desperately necessary, oppressed 
him. Calaxia was wholly unscarred, 
her people without need of the 
calm-crystals they traded. 

Something odd in the set of the 
Queen’s sails puzzled him until 
he identified the abnormality. In 
spite of distance and the swift 
approach of the old fishing boat, 
he could have sworn that her 
sails bellied not with the wind, 
but against. 

They fell slack, however, when 
the Queen reached his channel 
and flapped lazily, reversing to 
catch the wind and nose her cau- 
tiously into the shallows. Jeff dis- 
missed it impatiently — a change 
of wind or some crafty maneuver 
of old Charlie Mack’s to take ad- 
vantage of the current. 

Jeff had just set foot on his 
dock when it happened. Solid as 
the planking itself, and all but 
blocking off his view of the near- 
ing Island Queen, stood a six-foot 
owl. 

It was wingless and covered 
smoothly with pastel-blue feath- 
ers. It stood solidly on carefully 
manicured yellow feet and stared 
at him out of square violet eyes. 

Involuntarily he took a back- 
ward step, caught his heel on a 



sun-warped board and sat down 
heavily. 

“Well, what the devil!” he said 
inanely. 

The owl winced and disap- 
peared without a sound. 

J EFF got up shakily and stum- 
bled to the dock’s edge. A chill 
conviction of insanity gripped him 
when he looked down on water 
lapping smooth and undisturbed 
below. 

“I’ve gone mad,” he said aloud. 
Out on the bay, another catas- 
trophe just as improbable was 
in progress. 

Old Charlie Mack’s Island 
Queen had veered sharply off 
course, left the darker-green stripe 
of safe channel and plunged into 
water too shallow for her draft. 
The boat heeled on shoal sand, 
listed and hung aground with 
wind-filled sails holding her fast. 

The Scoop that had surfaced 
just behind her was so close that 
Jeff wondered if its species’ legen- 
dary good nature had been mis- 
represented. It floated like a 
glistening plum-colored island, 
flat dorsal flippers undulating 
gently on the water and its great 
filmy eyes all but closed against 
the slanting glare of morning sun. 

It was more than vast. The 
thing must weigh, Jeff thought 
dizzily, thousands or maybe mil- 
lions of tons. 

He thought he understood the 



TRADERS RISK 



113 



Queerfs grounding when he saw 
the swimmer stroking urgently 
toward his dock. Old Charlie had 
abandoned his boat and was 
swimming in to escape the Scoop. 

But it wasn’t Charlie. It was 
Jennifer, Charlie’s niece. 

Jeff took the brown hand she 
put up and drew her to the dock 
beside her, steadying her while 
she shook out her dripping red 
hair and regained her breath. 
Sea water had plastered Jennifer’s 
white blouse and knee-length 
dungarees to her body like a sec- 
ond skin, and the effect bordered 
on the spectacular. 

“Did you see it?” she de- 
manded. 

Jeff wrestled his eyes away to 
the Scoop that floated like a 
purple island in the bay. 

“A proper monster,” he said. 
“You got out just in time.” 

She looked at once startled 
and impatient. “Not the Scoop, 
you idiot. The owl.” 

It was Jeff’s turn to stare. 
“Owl? There was one on the 
dock, but I thought—” 

“So did I.” She sounded re- 
lieved. “But if you saw one, too 
. . . All of a sudden, it was stand- 
ing there on deck beside me, right 
out of nowhere. I lost my head 
and grounded the Queen, and it 
vanished. The owl, I mean.” 

“So did mine,” Jeff said. 

While they stood marveling, 
the owls came back. 



C HAFIS Three and Four were 
horribly shaken by the initial 
attempt at communication with 
the natives. Nothing in Ciriimian 
experience had prepared them for 
creatures intelligent but illogical, 
individually perceptive yet iso- 
lated from each other. 

“Communication by audible 
symbol,” Chafi Three said. He 
ruffled his feathers in a shudder. 
“Barbarous!” 

“Atavistic,” agreed Chafi Four. 
“They could even lie to each 
other.” 

But their dilemma remained. 
They must warn the natives be- 
fore the prowling Zid found them, 
else there would be no natives. 

“We must try again,” Three 
concluded, “searching out and 
using the proper symbols for ex- 
planation.” 

“Vocally,” said Chafi Four. 
They shuddered and tele- 
ported. 

* * * 

THE SUDDEN reappearance of 
his hallucination — doubled — 
startled Jeff no more than the 
fact that he seemed to be hold- 
ing Jennifer Mack tightly. Amaz- 
ingly, his immediate problem was 
not the possibility of harm from 
the owls, but whether he should 
reassure Jennifer before or after 
releasing her. 

He compromised by leaving the 
choice to her. “They can’t be 
dangerous,” he said. “There are 



114 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




TRADERS RISK 



115 



no land-dwelling predators on 
Calaxia. I read that in — ” 

“Nothing like that ever hatched 
out on Calaxia,” said Jennifer. She 
pulled free of him. “If they’re real, 
they came from somewhere else.” 
The implication drew a cold 
finger down Jeff’s spine. “That 
would mean other cultures out 
here. And in all our years of 
planet-hunting, we haven’t found 
one.” 

Memory chilled him further. 
“A ship landed inland a few 
minutes ago,” he said. “I took it 
for an El consulate craft, but it 
could have been — ” 

The Ciriimians caught his men- 
tal image of the landing and 
intervened while common ground 
offered. 

“The ship was ours,” said Chafi 
Three. He had not vocalized since 
fledgling days and his voice had 
a jarring croak of disuse. “Our 
Zid escaped its cage and de- 
stroyed two of us, forcing us to 
maroon it here for our own safety. 
Unfortunately, we trusted our star 
manual’s statement that the 
planet is unpopulated.” 

The Terrans drew together 
again. 

“Zid?” Jeff echoed. 

Chafi Four relieved his fellow 
of the strain by trying his own 
rusty croak. “A vicious Canthor- 
ian predator, combing the island 
at this moment for prey. You 
must help us to recapture it.” 



“So that you may identify it,” 
Chafii Three finished helpfully, 
“the Zid has this appearance.” 

His psi projection of the Zid 
appeared on the dock before 
them with demoniac abruptness 
— crouched to leap, twin tails 
lashing and its ten-foot length 
bristling with glassy magenta 
bristles. It had a lethal pair of 
extra limbs that sprang from the 
shoulders to end in taloned seiz- 
ing-hands, and its slanted red eyes 
burned malevolently from a 
snouted, razor-fanged face. 

It was too real to bear. Jeff 
stepped back on suddenly unre- 
liable legs. Jennifer fainted 
against him and the unexpected 
weight of her sent them both 
sprawling to the dock. 

“We lean on weak reeds,” Chafi 
Three said. “Creatures who col- 
lapse with terror at the mere 
projection of a Zid can be of 
little assistance in recapturing 
one.” 

Chafi Four agreed reluctantly. 
“Then we must seek aid else- 
where.” 

VK/'HEN Jeff Aubray pulled 
” himself up from the plank- 
ing, the apparitions were gone. 
His knees shook and perspiration 
crawled cold on his face, but he 
managed to haul Jennifer up with 
him. 

“Come out of it, will you?” he 
yelled ungallantly in her ear. “If 



116 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



a thing like that is loose on the 
island, we’ve got to get help!” 

J ENNIFER did not respond and 
he slapped her, until her eyes 
fluttered angrily. 

“There’s an El communicator 
in my cabin,” Jeff said. “Let’s 
go.” 

Memory lent Jennifer a sudden 
vitality that nearly left Jeff be- 
hind in their dash for the cottage 
up the beach. 

“The door,” Jeff panted, in- 
side. “Fasten the hurricane bolt. 
Hurry.” 

While she secured the flimsy 
door, he ripped through his be- 
longings, aligning his El commu- 
nicator again on his breakfast 
table. Finding out where the 
islanders got their calm-crystals 
had become suddenly unimpor- 
tant; just then, he wanted nothing 
so much as to see a well-armed 
patrol ship nosing down out of 
the Calaxian sunrise. 

He was activating the screen 
when Jennifer, in a magnificent 
rage in spite of soaked blouse 
and dungarees, advanced on him. 

“You’re an Earth Interests spy 
after all,” she accused. “They said 
in the Township you are no artist, 
but Uncle Charlie and I — ” 

Jeff made a pushing motion. 
“Keep away from me. Do you 
want that devil tearing the cabin 
down around us?” 

She fell quiet, remembering 



the Zid, and he made his call. » 
“Aubray, Chain 147. Come in, 
Consulate!” 

There was a sound of stealthy 
movement outside the cabin and 
he flicked sweat out of his eyes 
with a hand that shook. 

“El, for God’s sake, come in! 
I’m in trouble here!” 

The image on his three-inch 
screen was not Consul Satter- 
field’s but the startled consulate 
operator’s. “Trouble?” 

Jeff forced stumbling words 
into line. The El operator shook 
his head doubtfully. 

“Consul’s gone for the day, 
Aubray. I’ll see if I can reach 
him.” 

“He was about to send out an 
El patrol ship to take over here 
in the islands,” Jeff said. “Tell 
him to hurry it!” 

He knew when he put down 
the microphone that the ship 
would be too late. El might still 
drag the secret of the calm-crystal 
source out of the islanders, but 
Jeff Aubray and Jennifer Mack 
wouldn’t be on hand to witness 
their sorry triumph. The flimsy 
cabin could not stand for long 
against the sort of brute the owls 
had shown him, and there was no 
sort of weapon at hand. They 
couldn’t even run. 

“There’s something outside,” 
Jennifer said in a small voice. 

Her voice seemed to trigger 
the attack. 



TRADERS RISK 



117 



f I ''HE Zid lunged against the 
door with a force that cracked 
the wooden hurricane bolt across 
and opened a three-inch slit be- 
tween leading edge and lintel. Jeff 
had a glimpse of slanted red eyes 
and white-fanged snout before 
reflex sent him headlong to 
shoulder the door shut again. 

“The bunk,” he panted at Jen- 
nifer. “Shove it over.” 

Between them, they wedged 
the bunk against the door and 
held it in place. Then they stood 
looking palely at each other and 
waiting for the next attack. 

It came from a different quart- 
er — the wide double windows 
that overlooked the bay. The Zid, 
rearing upright, smashed away 
the flimsy rattan blinds with a 
taloned seizing-hand and looked 
redly in at them. 

Like a man in a dream, Jeff 
caught up his communicator from 
the table and hurled it. The Zid 
caught it deftly, sank glistening 
teeth into the unit and demolished 
it with a single snap. 

Crushed, the rig’s powerful 
little battery discharged with a 
muffled sputtering and flashing 
of sparks. The Zid howled pierc- 
ingly and dropped away from the 
window. 

That gave Jeff time enough to 
reach the storm shutters and se- 
cure them — only to rush again 
with Jennifer to their bunk barri- 
cade as the Zid promptly renewed 



its ferocious attack on the door. 

He flinched when Jennifer, to 
be heard above the Zid’s ragings, 
shouted in his ear: “My Scoop 
should have the Queen afloat by 
now. Can we reach her?” 

“Scoop?” The Zid’s avid cries 
discouraged curiosity before it 
was well born. “We’d never make 
it. We couldn’t possibly outrun 
that beast.” 

The Zid crashed against the 
door and drove it inches ajar, 
driving back their barricade. One 
taloned paw slid in and slashed 
viciously at random. Jeff ducked 
and strained his weight against 
the bunk, momentarily pinning 
the Zid’s threshing forelimb. 

Chafi Three chose that moment 
to reappear, nearly causing Jeff 
to let go the bunk and admit the 
Zid. 

“Your female’s suggestion is 
right,” the Ciriimian croaked. “The 
Zid does not swim. Four and I 
are arranging escape on that 
premise.” 

The Zid’s talons ripped through 
the door, leaving parallel rows 
of splintered breaks. Both slanted 
red eyes glared in briefly. 

“Then you’d damn well better 
hurry,” Jeff panted. The door, 
he estimated, might — or might 
not — hold for two minutes more. 

The Ciriimian vanished. There 
was a slithering sound in the dis- 
tance that sounded like a moun- 
tain in motion, and with it a ster- 



118 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



torous grunting that all but 
drowned out the Zid’s cries. Some- 
thing nudged the cottage with a 
force that all but knocked it flat. 

"My Scoop!” Jennifer ex- 
claimed. She let go the barricade 
and ran to the window to throw 
open the storm shutters. “Never 
mind the door. This way, quick!” 

CHE scrambled to the window 
^sill and jumped. Numbly, Jeff 
saw her suspended there, feet 
only inches below the sill, appar- 
ently on empty air. Then the door 
sagged again under the Zid’s lung- 
ings and he left the bunk to 
follow Jennifer. 

He landed on something tough 
and warm and slippery, a mon- 
strous tail fluke that stretched 
down the beach to merge into a 
flat purplish acreage of back, 
forested with endless rows of fins 
and spines and enigmatic ten- 
drils. The Scoop, he saw, and only 
half believed it, had wallowed 
into the shallows alongside his 
dock. It had reversed its unbeliev- 
able length to keep the head sub- 
merged, and at the same time had 
backed out of the water until its 
leviathan tail spanned the hun- 
dred-odd yards of sloping beach 
from surf to cabin. 

Just ahead of him, Jennifer 
caught an erect fin-spine and 
clung with both arms. “Hang on! 
We’re going — ” 

The Scoop contracted itself 



with a suddenness that yanked * 
them yards from the cottage and 
all but dislodged Jeff. Beyond the 
surf, the shallows boiled whitely 
where the Scoop fought for trac- 
tion to draw its grounded bulk 
into the water. 

Jeff looked back once to see 
the Zid close the distance be- 
tween and spring upward to the 
tail fluke behind him. He had an 
instant conviction that the brute’s 
second spring would see him torn 
to bits, but the Scoop at the mo- 
ment found water deep enough 
to move in earnest. The Zid could 
only sink in all six taloned limbs 
and hold fast. 

The hundred-odd yards from 
cabin to beach passed in a blur 
of speed. The Scoop reached 
deeper water and submerged, 
throwing a mountainous billow 
that sent the Island Queen reel- 
ing and all but foundered her. 

Jeff was dislodged instantly 
and sank like a stone. 

He came up, spouting water 
and fighting for breath, to find 
himself a perilous twenty feet 
from the Zid. The Zid, utterly 
out of its element, screamed hide- 
ously and threshed water to froth, 
all its earlier ferocity vanished 
under the imminent and unfa- 
miliar threat of drowning. Jeff 
sank again and churned desper- 
ately to put distance between 
them. 

He came up again, nearly 



TRADERS RISK 



119 



strangled, to find that either he 
or the Zid had halved the dis- 
tance between them. They were 
all but eye to eye when Jennifer 
caught him and towed him away 
toward the doubtful safety of the 
Island Queen. 

Chafis Three and Four ap- 
peared from nowhere and stood 
solemnly by while the Zid weak- 
ened and sank with a final gout 
of bubbles. 

“We must have your friend’s 
help,” Chafi Three said to Jen- 
nifer then, “to recover our in- 
vestment.” 

Jeff wheeled on him incredu- 
lously. “Me go down there after 
that monster? Not on your — ” 

“He means the Scoop,” Jen- 
nifer said. “They brought it 
ashore to help us out of the cabin. 
Why shouldn’t it help them 
now?” 

'T'HE Scoop came up out of the 
water so smoothly that the 
Island Queen hardly rocked, dan- 
gling the limp form of the Zid 
from its great rubbery lips like a 
drowned kitten. 

“Here,” Jennifer said. 

The Scoop touched its vast 
face to the Queen’s rail and 
dropped the unconscious body to 
the deck. The Zid twitched weak- 
ly and coughed up froth and 
water. 

Jeff backed away warily. 
“Damn it, are we going through 



all that again? Once it gets its 
wind back — ” 

Chafi Three interrupted him 
this time. “The crystal now. We 
must have it to quiet the Zid 
until it is safely caged again.” 
Jennifer turned suddenly firm. 
“No. I won’t let this El informer 
know about that.” 

The Ciriimians were firmer. 

“It will not matter now. Galac- 
tic Adjustment will extend aid to 
both Calaxia and Terra, furnish- 
ing substitutes for the crystals 
you deal in. There will be no loss 
to either faction.” 

“No loss?” Jennifer repeated 
indignantly. “But then there won’t 
be any demand for our crystals! 
We’ll lose everything we’ve 
gained.” 

“Not so,” Chafi Three assured 
her. “Galactic will offer satis- 
factory items in exchange, as well 
as a solution to Terra’s problems.” 
The Scoop, sensing Jennifer’s 
surrender, slid its ponderous bulk 
nearer and opened its mouth, 
leaving half an acre of lower jaw 
resting flush with the Island 
Queen’s deck. Without hesitation, 
Jennifer stepped over the rail and 
vanished into the yawning pink- 
ish cavern beyond. 

Appalled, Jeff rushed after her. 
“Jennifer! Have you lost your 
mind?” 

“There is no danger,” Chafi 
Three assured him. “Scoops are 
benevolent as well as intelligent, 



120 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



and arrived long ago at a work- 
ing agreement with the islanders. 
This one has produced a crystal 
and is ready to be relieved of it, 
else it would not have attached 
itself to a convenient human.” 
Jeff said dizzily, “The Scoops 
make the crystals?” 

“There is a nidus just back of 
a fleshy process in its throat, 
corresponding to your own ton- 
sils, which produces a crystal 
much as your Terran oyster se- 
cretes a pearl. The irritation dis- 
tracts the Scoops from their medi- 
tations — they are a philosophical 
species, though not mechanically 
progressive — and prompts them 
to barter their strength for a 
time to be rid of it.” 

J ENNIFER reappeared with a 
walnut-sized crystal in her 
hand and vaulted across the rail. 

“There goes another Scoop,” she 
said resignedly. “The Queen will 
have to tack with the wind for a 
while until another one shows up.” 
“So that’s why your sails bellied 
backward when you came in to 
harbor,” said Jeff. “The thing was 
towing you.” 

A thin, high streak of vapor- 
trail needling down toward them 
from the sunrise rainbow turned 
the channel of his thought. 

“That will be Satterfield and 
his task force,” Jeff told the 
Chafis. “1 think you’re going to 
find yourselves in an argument 



over that matter of squeezing 
Terra out of the crystal trade.” 
They reassured him solemnly. 
“Terra has no real need of the 
crystals. We can offer a tested 
genetics program that will elimi- 
nate racial anxiety within a few 
generations, and supply neural 
therapy equipment — on a trade 
basis, of course — that will serve 
the crystals’ purpose during the 
interim.” 

There should be a flaw some- 
where, Jeff felt, but he failed to 
see one. He gave up trying when 
he found Jennifer eying him with 
uncharacteristic uncertainty. 

“You’ll be glad to get back to 
your patrol work,” she said. It had 
an oddly tentative sound. 

Somehow the predictable mo- 
notony of consulate work had 
never seemed less inviting. The 
prospect of ending his Calaxian 
tour and going back to a half- 
barren and jittery Earth appealed 
to Jeff even less. 

“No,” he said. “I’d like to stay.” 
“There’s nothing to do but fish 
and sail around looking for Scoops 
ready to shed their crystals,” 
Jennifer reminded him. “Still, 
Uncle Charlie has talked about 
settling in the Township and 
standing for Council election. Can 
you fish and sail, Jeff Aubray?” 
The consulate rocket landed 
ashore, but Jeff ignored it. 

“I can learn,” he said. 

— ROGER DEE 



TRADERS RISK 



121 




Illustrated by DILLON 



Despite Mr. Shakespeare, 



wealth and name 



are both dross compared with 



the theft of hope — 
and Maxwell had to rob 



a whole planet of it! 



S TANDING at the armor- 
glass front of the observa- 
tion deck and watching 
the mountains rise and grow on 
the horizon, Conn Maxwell 
gripped the metal hand-rail with 
painful intensity, as though try- 
ing to hold back the airship by 
force. Thirty minutes— twenty-six 
and a fraction of the Terran 
minutes he had become accus- 
tomed to— until he’d have to face 
it. 

Then, realizing that he never, 
in his own thoughts, addressed 



Graveyard 
off Dreams 

By H. BEAM PIPER 



122 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 



123 



himself as “sir,” he turned. 

“I beg your pardon?” 

It was the first officer, wearing 
a Terran Federation Space Navy 
uniform of forty years, or about 
ten regulation-changes, ago. That 
was the sort of thing he had taken 
for granted before he had gone 
away. Now he was noticing it 
everywhere. 

“Thirty minutes out of Litch- 
field, sir,” the ship’s officer re- 
peated. “You’ll go off by the mid- 
ship gangway on the starboard 
side.” 

“Yes, I know. Thank you.” 

The first mate held out the clip- 
board he was carrying. “Would 
you mind checking over this, Mr. 
Maxwell? Your baggage list.” 
“Certainly.” He glanced at the 
slip of paper. Valises, eighteen and 
twenty-five kilos, two; trunks, 
seventy-five and seventy kilos, 
two; microbook case, one-fifty 
kilos, one. The last item fanned 
up a little flicker of anger in him, 
not at any person, even himself, 
but at the situation in which he 
found himself and the futility of 
the whole thing. 

“Yes, that’s everything. I have 
no hand-luggage, just this stuff.” 

TIE noticed that this was the 
only baggage list under the 
clip; the other papers were all 
freight and express manifests. 
“Not many passengers left aboard, 
are there?” 



“You’re the only one in first- 
class, sir,” the mate replied. “About 
forty farm-laborers on the lower 
deck. Everybody else got off at 
the other stops. Litchfield’s the end 
of the run. You know anything 
about the place?” 

“I was born there. I’ve been 
away at school for the last five 
years.” 

“On Baldur?” 

“Terra. University of Monte- 
video.” Once Conn would have said 
it almost boastfully. 

The mate gave him a quick look 
of surprised respect, then grinned 
and nodded. “Of course; I should 
have known. You’re Rodney Max- 
well’s son, aren’t you? Your 
father’s one of our regular freight 
shippers. Been sending out a lot 
of stuff lately.” He looked as 
though he would have liked to con- 
tinue the conversation, but said: 
“Sorry, I’ve got to go. Lot of things 
to attend to before landing.” He 
touched the visor of his cap and 
turned away. 

The mountains were closer 
when Conn looked forward again, 
and he glanced down. Five years 
and two space voyages ago, seen 
from the afterdeck of this ship or 
one of her sisters, the woods had 
been green with new foliage, and 
the wine-melon fields had been in 
pink blossom. He tried to picture 
the scene sliding away below in- 
stead of drawing in toward him, as 
though to force himself back to a 



124 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



moment of the irretrievable past. 

But the moment was gone, and 
with it the eager excitement and 
the half-formed anticipations of 
the things he would learn and ac- 
complish on Terra. The things he 
would learn— microbook case, one- 
fifty kilos, one. One of the steel 
trunks was full of things he had 
learned and accomplished, too. 
Maybe they, at least, had some 
value . . . 

The woods were autumn-tinted 
now and the fields were bare and 
brown. 

They had gotten the crop in 
early this year, for the fields had 
all been harvested. Those workers 
below must be going out for the 
wine-pressing. That extra hands 
were needed for that meant a big 
crop, and yet it seemed that less 
land was under cultivation than 
when he had gone away. He could 
see squares of low brush among 
the new forests that had grown up 
in the last forty years, and the few 
stands of original timber looked 
like hills above the second growth. 
Those trees had been standing 
when the planet had been colo- 
nized. 

That had been two hundred 
years ago, at the middle of the 
Seventh Century, Atomic Era. The 
name of the planet— Poictesme— 
told that: the Surromanticist 

Movement, when the critics and 
professors were rediscovering 
James Branch Cabell. 



T^UNNY how much was coming - 
*- back to him now— things he 
had picked up from the minimal 
liberal-arts and general-humanities 
courses he had taken and then 
forgotten in his absorption with 
the science and tech studies. 

The first extrasolar planets, as 
they had been discovered, had 
been named from Norse mytholo- 
gy— Odin and Baldur and Thor, 
Uller and Freya, Bifrost and As- 
gard and Niflheim. When the 
Norse names ran out, the discov- 
erers had turned to other mytholo- 
gies, Celtic and Egyptian and Hin- 
du and Assyrian, and by the 
middle of the Seventh Century 
they were naming planets for al- 
most anything. 

Anything, that is, but actual per- 
sons; their names were reserved 
for stars. Like Alpha Gartner, the 
sun of Poictesme, and Beta Gart- 
ner, a buckshot-sized pink glow in 
the southeast, and Gamma Gart- 
ner, out of sight on the other side 
of the world, all named for old 
Genji Gartner, the scholarly and 
half-piratical adventurer whose 
ship had been the first to approach 
the three stars and discover that 
each of them had planets. 

Forty-two planets in all, from a 
couple of methane-giants on Gam- 
ma to airless little things with one- 
sixth Terran gravity. Alpha II had 
been the only one in the Trisys- 
tem with an oxygen atmosphere 
and life. So Gartner had landed 



GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 



125 



on it, and named it Poictesme, and 
the settlement that had grown up 
around the first landing site had 
been called Storisende. Thirty 
years later, Genji Gartner died 
there, after seeing the camp grow 
to a metropolis, and was buried 
under a massive monument. 

Some of the other planets had 
been rich in metals, and mines had 
been opened, and atmosphere- 
domed factories and processing 
plants built. None of them could 
produce anything but hydroponic 
and tissue-culture foodstuffs, and 
natural foods from Poictesme had 
been less expensive, even on the 
planets of Gamma and Beta. So 
Poictesme had concentrated on 
agriculture and grown wealthy at 
it. 

Then, within fifty years of Genji 
Gartner’s death, the economics of 
interstellar trade overtook the Tri- 
system and the mines and fac- 
tories closed down. It was no 
longer possible to ship the output 
to a profitable market, in the face 
of the growing self-sufficiency of 
the colonial planets and the irre- 
ducibly high cost of space-freight- 
ing. 

Below, the brown fields and the 
red and yellow woods were merg- 
ing into a ten-mile-square desert 
of crumbling concrete— empty and 
roofless sheds and warehouses and 
barracks, brush-choked parade 
grounds and landing fields, airship 
docks, and even a spaceport. They 



were more recent, dating from 
Poictesme’s second brief and hec- 
tic prosperity, when the Terran 
Federation’s Third Fleet- Army 
Force had occupied the Gartner 
Trisystem during the System 
States War. 

TVITLLIONS of troops had been 
stationed on or routed 
through Poictesme; tens of thou- 
sands of spacecraft had been based 
on the Trisystem; the mines and 
factories had reopened for war 
production. The Federation had 
spent trillions of sols on Poictesme, 
piled up mountains of stores and 
arms and equipment, left the face 
of the planet cluttered with in- 
stallations. 

Then, ten years before anybody 
had expected it, the rebellious 
System States Alliance had col- 
lapsed and the war had ended. 
The Federation armies had gone 
home, taking with them the 
clothes they stood in, their per- 
sonal weapons and a few sou- 
venirs. Everything else had been 
left behind; even the most ex- 
pensive equipment was worth less 
than the cost of removal. 

Ever since, Poictesme had been 
living on salvage. The uniform the 
first officer was wearing was forty 
years old— and it was barely a 
month out of the original pack- 
ing. On Terra, Conn had told his 
friends that his father was a pros- 
pector and let them interpret that 



126 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



as meaning an explorer for, say, 
uranium deposits. Rodney Max- 
well found plenty of uranium, but 
he got it by taking apart the war- 
heads of missiles. 

The old replacement depot or 
classification center or training 
area or whatever it had been had 
vanished under the ship now and 
it was all forest back to the 
mountains, with an occasional 
cluster of deserted buildings. From 
one or two, threads of blue smoke 
rose— bands of farm tramps, camp- 
ing on their way from harvest to 
wine-pressing. Then the eastern 
foothills were out of sight and he 
was looking down on the granite 
spines of the Calder Range; the 
valley beyond was sloping away 
and widening out in the distance, 
and it was time he began think- 
ing of what to say when he landed. 
He would have to tell them, of 
course. 

He wondered who would be at 
the dock to meet him, besides 
his family. Lynne Fawzi, he hoped. 
Or did he? Her parents would be 
with her, and Kurt Fawzi would 
take the news hardest of any of 
them, and be the first to blame 
him because it was bad. The hopes 
he had built for Lynne and him- 
self would have to be held in 
abeyance till he saw how her 
father would regard him now. 

But however any of them took 
it, he would have to tell them the 
truth. 

GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 



T HE ship swept on, tearing^ 
through the thin puffs of cloud 
at ten miles a minute. Six minutes 
to landing. Five. Four. Then he 
saw the river bend, glinting redly 
through the haze in the sunlight; 
Litchfield was inside it, and he 
stared waiting for the first glimpse 
of the city. Three minutes, and the 
ship began to cut speed and lose 
altitude. The hot-jets had stopped 
firing and he could hear the whine 
of the cold-jet rotors. 

Then he could see Litchfield, 
dominated by the Airport Build- 
ing, so thick that it looked squat 
for all its height, like a candle- 
stump in a puddle of its own 
grease, the other buildings under 
their carapace of terraces and 
landing stages seeming to have 
flowed away from it. And there 
was the yellow block of the dis- 
tilleries, and High Garden Ter- 
race, and the Mall . . . 

At first, in the distance, it looked 
like a living city. Then, second by 
second, the stigmata of decay be- 
came more and more evident. Ter- 
races empty or littered with rub- 
bish; * gardens untended and 
choked with wild growth; win- 
dows staring blindly; walls 
splotched with lichens and grimy 
where the rains could not wash 
them. 

For a moment, he was afraid 
that some disaster, unmentioned in 
his father’s letters, had befallen. 
Then he realized that the change 

127 



had not been in Litchfield but in 
himself. After five years, he was 
seeing it as it really was. He won- 
dered how his family and his 
friends would look to him now. 
Or Lynne. 

The ship was coming in over 
the Mall; he could see the cracked 
paving sprouting grass, the statues 
askew on their pedestals, the 
waterless fountains. He thought 
for an instant that one of them 
was playing, and then he saw that 
what he had taken for spray was 
dust blowing from the empty basin. 
There was something about dusty 
fountains, something he had 
learned at the University. Oh, yes. 
One of the Second Century Mar- 
tian Colonial poets, Eirrarsson, or 
somebody like that: 

The fountains are dusty in the 
Graveyard of Dreams; 

The hinges are rusty and swing 
with tiny screams. 

There was more to it, but he 
couldn’t remember; something 
about empty gardens under an 
empty sky. There must have been 
colonies inside the Sol System, be- 
fore the Interstellar Era, that 
hadn’t turned out any better than 
Poictesme. Then he stopped try- 
ing to remember as the ship turned 
toward the Airport Building and 
a couple of tugs— Terran Federa- 
tion contragravity tanks, with der- 
rick-booms behind and push-poles 



where the guns had been— came 
up to bring her down. 

He walked along the starboard 
promenade to the gangway, which 
the first mate and a couple of air- 
men were getting open. 

1%/f OST of the population of 
top-level Litchfield was in 
the crowd on the dock. He recog- 
nized old Colonel Zareff, with his 
white hair and plum-brown skin, 
and Tom Brangwyn, the town 
marshal, red-faced and bulking 
above the others. It took a few 
seconds for him to pick out his 
father and mother, and his sister 
Flora, and then to realize that the 
handsome young man beside Flora 
was his brother Charley. Charley 
had been thirteen when Conn had 
gone away. And there was Kurt 
Fawzi, the mayor of Litchfield, 
and there was Lynne, beside him, 
her red-lipped face tilted upward 
with a cloud of bright hair behind 
it. 

He waved to her, and she waved 
back, jumping in excitement, and 
then everybody was waving, and 
they were pushing his family to 
the front and making way for 
them. 

The ship touched down lightly 
and gave a lurch as she went off 
contragravity, and they got the 
gangway open and the steps swung 
out, and he started down toward 
the people who had gathered to 
greet him. 



128 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 



129 



His father was wearing the same 
black best-suit he had worn when 
they had parted five years ago. It 
had been new then; now it was 
shabby and had acquired a per- 
manent wrinkle across the right 
hip, over the pistol-butt. Charley 
was carrying a gun, too; the belt 
and holster looked as though he 
had made them himself. His 
mother’s dress was new and so 
was Flora’s— probably made for 
the occasion. He couldn’t be sure 
just which of the Terran Federa- 
tion services had provided the 
material, but Charley’s shirt was 
Medical Service sterilon. 

Ashamed that he was noticing 
and thinking of such things at a 
time like this, he clasped his 
father’s hand and kissed his 
mother and Flora. Everybody was 
talking at once, saying things that 
he heard only as happy sounds. 
His brother’s words were the first 
that penetrated as words. 

“You didn’t know me,” Charley 
was accusing. “Don’t deny it; I 
saw you standing there wondering 
if I was Flora’s new boy friend 
or what.” 

“Well, how in Niflheim’d you 
expect me to? You’ve grown up 
since the last time I saw you. 
You’re looking great, kid!” He 
caught the gleam of Lynne’s 
golden hair beyond Charley’s 
shoulder and pushed him gently 
aside. “Lynne!” 

“Conn, you look just wonder- 



ful!” Her arms were around his 
neck and she was kissing him. “Am 
I still your girl, Conn?” 

He crushed her against him and 
returned her kisses, assuring her 
that she was. He wasn’t going to 
let it make a bit of difference how 
her father took the news— if she 
didn’t. 

She babbled on: “You didn’t 
get mixed up with any of those 
girls on Terra, did you? If you 
did, don’t tell me about it. All I 
care about is that you’re back. 
Oh, Conn, you don’t know how 
much I missed you . . . Mother, 
Dad, doesn’t he look just splen- 
did?” 

T/’URT Fawzi, a little thinner, 
his face more wrinkled, his 
hair grayer, shook his hand. 

“I’m just as glad to see you as 
anybody, Conn,” he said, “even if 
I’m not being as demonstrative 
about it as Lynne. Judge, what 
do you think of our returned wan- 
derer? Franz, shake hands with 
him, but save the interview for 
the News for later. Professor, 
here’s one student Litchfield 
Academy won’t need to be 
ashamed of.” 

He shook hands with them— 
old Judge Ledue; Franz Veltrin, 
the newsman; Professor Kellton; 
a dozen others, some of whom he 
had not thought of in five years. 
They were all cordial and happy 
—how much, he wondered, be- 



130 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



cause he was their neighbor, Conn 
Maxwell, Rodney Maxwell’s son, 
home from Terra, and how much 
because of what they hoped he 
would tell them? Kurt Fawzi, edg- 
ing him out of the crowd, was the 
first to voice that. 

“Conn, what did you find out?” 
he asked breathlessly. “Do you 
know where it is?” 

Conn hesitated, looking about 
desperately; this was no time to 
start talking to Kurt Fawzi about 
it. His father was turning toward 
him from one side, and from the 
other Tom Brangwyn and Colonel 
Zareff were approaching more 
slowly, the older man leaning on 
a silver-headed cane. 

“Don’t bother him about it now, 
Kurt,” Rodney Maxwell scolded 
the mayor. “He’s just gotten off 
the ship; he hasn’t had time to 
say hello to everybody yet.” 

“But, Rod, I’ve been waiting 
to hear what he’s found out ever 
since he went away,” Fawzi pro- 
tested in a hurt tone. 

Brangwyn and Colonel Zareff 
joined them. They were close 
friends, probably because neither 
of them was a native of Poictesme. 

The town marshal had always 
been reticent about his origins, 
but Conn guessed it was Hathor. 
Brangwyn’s heavy-muscled body, 
and his ease and grace in handling 
it, marked him as a man of a high- 
gravity planet. Besides, Hathor 
had a permanent cloud-envelope, 



and Tom Brangwyn’s skin had 
turned boiled-lobster red under the- 
dim orange sunlight of Alpha 
Gartner. 

Old Klem Zareff never hesi- 
tated to tell anybody where he 
came from — he was from Ash- 
modai, one of the System States 
planets, and he had commanded 
a division that had been blasted 
down to about regimental strength, 
in the Alliance army. 

“Hello, boy,” he croaked, ex- 
tending a trembling hand. “Glad 
you’re home. We all missed you.” 
“We sure did, Conn,” the town 
marshal agreed, clasping Conn’s 
hand as soon as the old man had 
released it. “Find out anything 
definite?” 

Kurt Fawzi looked at his watch. 
“Conn, we’ve planned a little cele- 
bration for you. We only had since 
day before yesterday, when the 
spaceship came into radio range, 
but we’re having a dinner party 
for you at Senta’s this evening.” 
“You couldn’t have done any- 
thing I’d have liked better, Mr. 
Fawzi. I’d have to have a meal at 
Senta’s before really feeling that 
I’d come home.” 

“Well, here’s what I have in 
mind. It’ll be three hours till din- 
ner’s ready. Suppose we all go up 
to my office in the meantime. It’ll 
give the ladies a chance to go 
home and fix up for the party, 
and we can have a drink and a 
talk.” 



GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 



131 



“You want to do that, Conn?” 
his father asked, a trifle doubt- 
fully. “If you’d rather go home 
first ...” 

SOMETHING in his father’s 
^ voice and manner disturbed 
him vaguely; however, he nodded 
agreement. After a couple of 
drinks, he’d be better able to tell 
them. 

“Yes, indeed, Mr. Fawzi,” Conn 
said. “I know you’re all anxious, 
but it’s a long story. This’ll be a 
good chance to tell you.” 

Fawzi turned to his wife and 
daughter, interrupting himself to 
shout instructions to a couple of 
dockhands who were floating the 
baggage off the ship on a con- 
tragravity-lifter. Conn’s father had 
sent Charley off with a message 
to his mother and Flora. 

Conn turned to Colonel Zareff. 
“I noticed extra workers coming 
out from the hiring agencies in 
Storisende, and the crop was all 
in across the Calders. Big wine- 
pressing this year?” 

“Yes, we’re up to our necks in 
melons,” the old planter grumbled. 
“Gehenna of a big crop. Price’ll 
drop like a brick of collapsium, 
and this time next year we’ll be 
using brandy to wash our feet in.” 
“If you can’t get good prices, 
hang onto it and age it. I wish 
you could see what the bars on 
Terra charge for a drink of ten- 
year-old Poictesme.” 



“This isn’t Terra and we aren’t 
selling it by the drink. Only place 
we can sell brandy is at Stori- 
sende spaceport, and we have to 
take what the trading-ship cap- 
tains offer. You’ve been on a rich 
planet for the last five years, Conn. 
You’ve forgotten what it’s like to 
live in a poorhouse. And that’s what 
Poictesme is.” 

“Things’ll be better from now 
on, Klem,” the mayor said, putting 
one hand on the old man’s shoul- 
der and the other on Conn’s. “Our 
boy’s home. With what he can tell 
us, we’ll be able to solve all our 
problems. Come on, let’s go up 
and hear about it.” 

They entered the wide door- 
way of the warehouse on the dock- 
level floor of the Airport Build- 
ing and crossed to the lift. About 
a dozen others had joined them, 
all the important men of Lichfield. 
Inside, Kurt Fawzi’s laborers were 
floating out cargo for the ship- 
casks of brandy, of course, and a 
lot of boxes and crates painted 
light blue and marked with the 
wreathed globe of the Terran Fed- 
eration and the gold triangle of 
the Third Fleet-Army Force and 
the eight-pointed red star of Ord- 
nance Service. Long cases of rifles, 
square boxes of ammunition, ma- 
chine guns, crated auto-cannon and 
rockets. 

“Where’d that stuff come from?” 
Conn asked his father. “You dig it 
up?” 



132 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



TTIS father chuckled. “That hap- 
pened since the last time I 
wrote you. Remember the big un- 
derground headquarters complex 
in the Calders? Everybody thought 
it had been all cleaned out years 
ago. You know, it’s never a mis- 
take to take a second look at 
anything that everybody believes. 
I found a lot of sealed-off sections 
over there that had never been en- 
tered. This stuff’s from one of the 
headquarters defense armories. I 
have a gang getting the stuff out. 
Charley and I flew in after lunch, 
and I’m going back the first thing 
tomorrow.” 

“But there’s enough combat 
equipment on hand to outfit a 
private army for every man, wom- 
an and child on Poictesme!” 
Conn objected. “Where are we 
going to sell this?” 

“Storisende spaceport. The 
tramp freighters are buying it for 
newly colonized planets that 
haven’t been industrialized yet. 
They don’t pay much, but it 
doesn’t cost much to get it out, 
and I’ve been clearing about three 
hundred sols a ton on the space- 
port docks. That’s not bad, you 
know.” 

Three hundred sols a ton. A 
lifter went by stacked with cases 
of M-504 submachine guns. Un- 
loaded, one of them weighed six 
pounds, and even a used one was 
worth a hundred sols. Conn started 
to say something about that, but 



then they came to the lift and were 
crowding onto it. 

He had been in Kurt Fawzi’s 
office a few times, always with 
his father, and he remembered it 
as a dim, quiet place of genteel 
conviviality and rambling con- 
versations, with deep, comfortable 
chairs and many ashtrays. Fawzi’s 
warehouse and brokerage business, 
and the airline agency, and the 
government, such as it was, of 
Litchfield, combined, made few de- 
mands on his time and did not 
prevent the office from being a 
favored loafing center for the 
town’s elders. The lights were 
bright only over the big table that 
served, among other things, as a 
desk, and the walls were almost 
invisible in the shadows. 

As they came down the hall- 
way from the lift, everybody had 
begun speaking more softly. Voices 
were never loud or excited in 
Kurt Fawzi’s office. 

Tom Brangwyn went to the 
table, taking off his belt and hol- 
ster and laying his pistol aside. 
The others, crowding into the 
room, added their weapons to his. 

That was something else Conn 
was seeing with new eyes. It had 
been five years since he had car- 
ried a gun and he was wondering 
why any of them bothered. A gun 
was what a boy put on to show 
that he had reached manhood, 
and a man carried for the rest of 
his life out of habit. 



GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 



133 



Why, there wouldn’t be a shoot- 
ing a year in Litchfield, if you 
didn’t count the farm tramps and 
drifters, who kept to the lower 
level or camped in the empty 
buildings at the edge of town. Or 
maybe that was it; maybe Litch- 
field was peaceful because every- 
body was armed. It certainly 
wasn’t because of anything the 
Planetary Government at Stori- 
sende did to maintain order. 

A FTER divesting himself of his 
gun, Tom Brangwyn took 
over the bartending, getting out 
glasses and filling a pitcher of 
brandy from a keg in the corner. 

“Everybody supplied?” Fawzi 
was asking. “Well, let’s drink to 
our returned emissary. We’re all 
anxious to hear what you found 
out, Conn. Gentlemen, here’s to 
our friend Conn Maxwell. Wel- 
come home, Conn!” 

“Well, it’s wonderful to be back, 
Mr. Fawzi—” 

“No, let’s not have any of this 
mister foolishness! You’re one of 
the gang now. And drink up, every- 
body. We have plenty of brandy, 
even if we don’t have anything 
else.” 

“You telling us, Kurt?” some- 
body demanded. One of the dis- 
tillery company; the name would 
come back to Conn in a moment. 
“When this crop gets pressed and 
fermented—” 

“When I start pressing, I don’t 



know where in Gehenna I’m go- 
ing to vat the stuff till it ferments,” 
Colonel Zareff said. “Or why. You 
won’t be able to handle all of it.” 
“Now, now!” Fawzi reproved. 
“Let’s not start moaning about our 
troubles. Not the day Conn’s come 
home. Not when he’s going to tell 
us how to find the Third Fleet- 
Army Force Brain.” 

“You did find out where the 
Brain is, didn’t you, Conn?” Brang- 
wyn asked anxiously. 

That set half a dozen of them 
off at once. They had all sat down 
after the toast; now they were 
fidgeting in their chairs, leaning 
forward, looking at Conn fixedly. 
“What did you find out, Conn?” 
“It’s still here on Poictesme, 
isn’t it?” 

“Did you find out where it is?” 
He wanted to tell them in one 
quick sentence and get it over 
with. He couldn’t, any more than 
he could force himself to squeeze 
the trigger of a pistol he knew 
would blow up in his hand. 

“Wait a minute, gentlemen.” He 
finished the brandy, and held out 
the glass to Tom Brangwyn, nod- 
ding toward the pitcher. Even the 
first drink had warmed him and 
he could feel the constriction eas- 
ing in his throat and the lump at 
the pit of his stomach dissolving. 
“I hope none of you expect me 
to spread out a map and show you 
the cross on it, where the Brain 
is. I can’t. I can’t even give the 



134 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



approximate location of the thing.” 
Much of the happy eagerness 
drained out of the faces around 
him. Some of them were looking 
troubled; Colonel Zareff was 
gnawing the bottom of his mus- 
tache, and Judge Ledue’s hand 
shook as he tried to relight his 
cigar. Conn stole a quick side- 
glance at his father; Rodney Max- 
well was watching him curiously, 
as though wondering what he was 
going to say next. 

“But it is still here on Poic- 
tesme?” Fawzi questioned. “They 
didn’t take it away when they 
evacuated, did they?” 

ONN finished his second drink. 
^ This time he picked up the 
pitcher and refilled for himself. 

“I’m going to have to do a lot 
of talking,” he said, “and it’s going 
to be thirsty work. I’ll have to tell 
you the whole thing from the be- 
ginning, and if you start asking 
questions at random, you’ll get me 
mixed up and I’ll miss the im- 
portant points.” 

“By all means!” Judge Ledue 
told him. “Give it in your own 
words, in what you think is the 
proper order.” 

“Thank you, Judge.” 

Conn drank some more brandy, 
hoping he could get his courage up 
without getting drunk. After all, 
they had a right to a full report; 
all of them had contributed some- 
thing toward sending him to Terra. 



“The main purpose in my go- 
ing to the University was to learn” 
computer theory and practice. It 
wouldn’t do any good for us to 
find the Brain if none of us are 
able to use it. Well, I learned 
enough to be able to operate, pro- 
gram and service any computer in 
existence, and train assistants. 
During my last year at the Uni- 
versity, I had a part-time paid job 
programming the big positron-neu- 
trino-photon computer in the astro- 
physics department. When I grad- 
uated, I was offered a position as 
instructor in positronic computer 
theory.” 

“You never mentioned that in 
your letters, son,” his father said. 

“It was too late for any letter 
except one that would come on the 
same ship I did. Beside, it wasn’t 
very important.” 

“I think it was.” There was a 
catch in old Professor Kellton’s 
voice. “One of my boys, from the 
Academy, offered a place on the 
faculty of the University of Mon- 
tevideo, on Terra!” He poured 
himself a second drink, something 
he almost never did. 

“Conn means it wasn’t impor- 
tant because it didn’t have any- 
thing to do with the Brain,” Faw- 
zi explained and then looked at 
Conn expectantly. 

All right; now he’d tell them. 
“I went over all the records of the 
Third Fleet- Army Force’s occu- 
pation of Poictesme that are open 



GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 



135 



to the public. On one pretext or 
another, I got permission to 
examine the non-classified files 
that aren’t open to public exami- 
nation. I even got a few peeps at 
some of the stuff that’s still clas- 
sified secret. I have maps and 
plans of all the installations that 
were built on this planet— literal- 
ly thousands of them, many still 
undiscovered. Why, we haven’t 
more than scratched the surface of 
what the Federation left behind 
here. For instance, all the im- 
portant installations exist in dupli- 
cate, some even in triplicate, as a 
precaution against Alliance space 
attack.” 

PACE attack!” Colonel Za- 
^ reff was indignant. “There 
never was a time when the Alli- 
ance could have taken the offen- 
sive against Poictesme, even if 
an offensive outside our own space- 
area had been part of our policy. 
We just didn’t have the ships. It 
took over a year to move a million 
and a half troops from Ashmodai 
to Marduk, and the fleet that was 
based on Amaterasu was blasted 
out of existence in the spaceports 
and in orbit. Hell, at the time of 
the surrender, we didn’t have—” 
“They weren’t taking chances 
on that, Colonel. But the point 
I want to make is that with every- 
thing I did find, I never found, in 
any official record, a single word 
about the giant computer we call 



the Third Fleet-Army Force 
Brain.” 

For a time, the only sound in 
the room was the tiny insectile 
humming of the electric clock on 
the wall. Then Professor Kellton 
set his glass on the table, and it 
sounded like a hammer-blow. 

“Nothing, Conn?” Kurt Fawzi 
was incredulous and, for the first 
time, frightened. The others were 
exchanging uneasy glances. “But 
you must have! A thing like that—” 

“Of course it would be one of 
the closest secrets during the war,” 
somebody else said. “But in forty 
years, you’d expect something to 
leak out.” 

“Why, during the war, it was all 
through the Third Force. Even the 
Alliance knew about it; that’s how 
Klem heard of it.” 

“Well, Conn couldn’t just walk 
into the secret files and read what- 
ever he wanted to. Just because he 
couldn’t find anything—” 

“Don’t tell me about security!” 
Klem Zareff snorted. “Certainly 
they still have it classified; staff- 
brass’d rather lose an eye than 
declassify anything. If you’d seen 
the lengths our staff went to— hell, 
we lost battles because the staff 
wouldn’t release information the 
troops in the field needed. I re- 
member once—” 

“But there was a Brain,” Judge 
Ledue was saying, to reassure him- 
self and draw agreement from the 
others. “It was capable of com* 



136 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTIOF 



bining data, and scanning and 
evaluating all its positronic memo- 
ries, and forming association pat- 
terns, and reasoning with absolute 
perfection. It was more than a 
positronic brain— it was a posi- 
tronic super-mind.” 

“We’d have won the war, ex- 
cept for the Brain. We had ninety 
systems, a hundred and thirty in- 
habited planets, a hundred billion 
people— and we were on the de- 
fensive in our own space-area! 
Every move we made was known 
and anticipated by the Federation. 
How could they have done that 
without something like the Brain?” 

“Conn, from what you learned 
of computers, how large a volume 
of space would you say the Brain 
would have to occupy?” Profes- 
sor Kellton asked. 

TJROFESSOR Kellton was the 
most unworldly of the lot, 
yet he was asking the most prac- 
tical question. 

“Well, the astrophysics com- 
puter I worked with at the Univer- 
sity occupies a total of about one 
million cubic feet,” Conn began. 
This was his chance; they’d take 
anything he told them about com- 
puters as gospel. “It was only de- 
signed to handle problems in astro- 
physics. The Brain, being built for 
space war, would have to handle 
any such problem. And if half the 
stories about the Brain are any- 
where near true, it handled any 



other problem— mathematical, sci- 
entific, political, economic, strategic, 
psychological, even philosophical 
and ethical. Well, I’d say that a 
hundred million cubic feet would 
be the smallest even conceivable.” 
They all nodded seriously. They 
were willing to accept that— or 
anything else, except one thing. 

“Lot of places on this planet 
where a thing that size could be 
hidden,” Tom Brangwyn said, un- 
dismayed. “A planet’s a mighty big 
place.” 

“It could be under water, in one 
of the seas,” Piet Dawes, the 
banker, suggested. “An under- 
water dome city wouldn’t be any 
harder to build than a dome city 
on a poison-atmosphere planet like 
Tubal-Cain.” 

“It might even be on Tubal- 
Cain,” a melon-planter said. “Or 
Hiawatha, or even one of the Beta 
or Gamma planets. The Third 
Force was occupying the whole 
Trisystem, you know.” He thought 
for a moment. “If I’d been in 
charge, I’d have put it on one of 
the moons of Pantagruel.” 

“But that’s clear out in the 
Alpha System,” Judge Ledue ob- 
jected. “We don’t have a space- 
ship on the planet, certainly 
nothing with a hyperdrive engine. 
And it would take a lifetime to 
get out to the Gamma System and 
back on reaction drive.” 

Conn put his empty brandy 
glass on the table and sat erect. 



GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 



137 



A new thought had occurred to 
him, chasing out of his mind all 
the worries and fears he had 
brought with him all the way from 
Terra. 

“Then we’ll have to build a 
ship,” he said calmly. “I know, 
when the Federation evacuated 
Poictesme, they took every hyper- 
drive ship with them. But they had 
plenty of shipyards and spaceports 
on this planet, and I have maps 
showing the location of all of them, 
and barely a third of them have 
been discovered so far. I’m sure 



we can find enough hulks, and 
enough hyperfield generator parts, 
to assemble a ship or two, and I 
know we’ll find the same or better 
on some of the other planets. 

“And here’s another thing,” he 
added. “When we start looking 
into some of the dome-city plants 
on Tubal-Cain and Hiawatha and 
Moruna and Koshchei, we may 
find the plant or plants where the 
components for the Brain were 
fabricated, and if we do, we may 
find records of where they were 
shipped, and that’ll be it.” 



1 




138 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




revr OU’RE right!” Professor 
Kellton cried, quivering with 
excitement. “We’ve been hunting 
at random for the Brain, so it 
would only be an accident if we 
found it. We’ll have to do this sys- 
tematically, and with Conn to help 
us— Conn, why not build a com- 
puter? I don’t mean another Brain; 
I mean a computer to help us 
find the Brain.” 

“We can, but we may not even 
need to build one. When we get 
out to the industrial planets, we 
may find one ready except for 



perhaps some minor alterations.” 

“But how are we going to fi* 
nance all this?” Klem Zareff 
demanded querulously. “We’re 
poorer than snakes, and even one 
hyperdrive ship’s going to cost 
like Gehenna.” 

“I’ve been thinking about that, 
Klem,” Fawzi said. “If we can find 
material at these shipyards Conn 
knows about, most of our expense 
will be labor. Well, haven’t we ten 
workmen Competing for every job? 
They don’t really need money, 
only the things money can buy. 



GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 



139 



We can raise food on the farms 
and provide whatever else they 
need out of Federation supplies.” 
“Sure. As soon as it gets around 
that we’re really trying to do 
something about this, everybody’ll 
want in on it,” Tom Brangwyn 
predicted. 

“And I have no doubt that the 
Planetary Government at Stori- 
sende will give us assistance, once 
we show that this is a practical 
and productive enterprise,” Judge 
Ledue put in. “I have some slight 
influence with the President and—” 
“I’m not too sure we want the 
Government getting into this,” 
Kurt Fawzi replied. “Give them 
half a chance and that gang at 
Storisende’ll squeeze us right out.” 
“We can handle this ourselves,” 
Brangwyn agreed. “And when we 
get some kind of a ship and get out 
to the other two systems, or even 
just to Tubal-Cain or Hiawatha, 
first thing you know, we’ll be the 
Planetary Government.” 

“Well, now, Tom,” Fawzi began 
piously, “the Brain is too big a 
thing for a few of us to try to 
monopolize; it’ll be for all Poic- 
tesme. Of course, it’s only proper 
that we, who are making the effort 
to locate it, should have the direc- 
tion of that effort . . .” 

While Fawzi was talking, Rod- 
ney Maxwell went to the table, 
rummaged his pistol out of the 
pile and buckled it on. The mayor 
stopped short. 

140 



“You leaving us, Rod?” 

“Yes, it’s getting late. Conn and 
I are going for a little walk; we’ll 
be at Senta’s in half an hour. The 
fresh air will do both of us good 
and we have a lot to talk about. 
After all, we haven’t sefen each 
other for over five years.” 

r I ^HEY were silent, however, un- 
til they were away from the 
Airport Building and walking along 
High Garden Terrace in the direc- 
tion of the Mall. Conn was glad; 
his own thoughts were weighing 
too heavily within him : I didn’t do 
it. I was going to do it; every 
minute, I was going to do it, and 
I didn’t, and now it’s too late. 

“That was quite a talk you gave 
them, son,” his father said. “They 
believed every word of it. A couple 
of times, I even caught myself 
starting to believe it.” 

Conn stopped short. His father 
stopped beside him and stood 
looking at him. 

“Why didn’t you tell them the 
truth?” Rodney Maxwell asked. 

The question angered Conn. It 
was what he had been asking him- 
self. 

“Why didn’t I just grab a couple 
of pistols off the table and shoot 
the lot of them?” he retorted. “It 
would have killed them quicker 
and wouldn’t have hurt as much.” 
His father took the cigar from 
his mouth and inspected the tip 
of it. “The truth must be pretty 

GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



bad then. There is no Brain. It 
that it, son?” 

“There never was one. I’m not 
saying that only because I know 
it would be impossible to build 
such a computer. I’m telling you 
what the one man in the Galaxy 
who ought to know told me— the 
man who commanded the Third 
Force during the War.” 

“Foxx Travis! I didn’t know he 
was still alive. You actually talked 
to him?” 

“Yes. He’s on Luna, keeping 
himself alive at low gravity. It 
took me a couple of years, and I 
was afraid he’d die before I got 
to him, but I finally managed to 
see him.” 

“What did he tell you?” 

“That no such thing as the 
Brain ever existed.” They started 
walking again, more slowly, toward 
the far edge of the terrace, with 
the sky red and orange in front 
of them. “The story was all 
through the Third Force, but it 
was just one of those wild tales 
that get started, nobody knows 
how, among troops. The High 
Command never denied or even 
discouraged it. It helped morale, 
and letting it leak to the enemy 
was good psychological warfare.” 

“Klem Zareff says that every- 
body in the Alliance army heard 
of the Brain,” his father said. 
“That was why he came here in 
the first place.” He puffed thought- 
fully on his cigar. “You said a 

GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 



computer like the Brain would be 
an impossibility. Why? Wouldn’t 
it be just another computer, onljr 
a lot bigger and a lot smarter?” 

??T\AD, computermen don’t like 
to hear computers called 
smart,” Conn said. “They aren’t. 
The people who build them are 
smart; a computer only knows 
what’s fed to it. They can hold 
more information in their banks 
than a man can in his memory, 
they can combine it faster, they 
don’t get tired or absent-minded. 
But they can’t imagine, they can’t 
create, and they can’t do anything 
a human brain can’t.” 

“You know, I’d wondered about 
just that,” said his father. “And 
none of the histories of the War 
even as much as mentioned the 
Brain. And I couldn’t see why, 
after the War, they didn’t build 
dozens of them to handle all these 
Galactic political and economic 
problems that nobody seems able 
to solve. A thing like the Brain 
wouldn’t only be useful for war; 
the people here aren’t trying to 
find it for war purposes.” 

“You didn’t mention any of 
these doubts to the others, did 
you?” 

“They were just doubts. You 
knew for sure, and you couldn’t 
tell them.” 

“I’d come home intending to— 
tell them there was no Brain, tell 
them to stop wasting their time 

141 



hunting for it and start trying to 
figure out the answers themselves. 
But I couldn’t. They don’t believe 
in the Brain as a tool, to use; it’s 
a machine god that they can 
bring all their troubles to. You 
can’t take a thing like that away 
from people without giving them 
something better.” 

“I noticed you suggested build- 
ing a spaceship and agreed with 
the professor about building a 
computer. What was your idea? 
To take their minds off hunting 
for the Brain and keep them 
busy?” 

Conn shook his head. “I’m 
serious about the ship— ships. You 
and Colonel Zareff gave me that 
idea.” 

His father looked at him in 
surprise. “I never said a word in 
there, and Klem didn’t even once 
mention—” 

“Not in Kurt’s office; before 
we went up from the docks. There 
was Klem, moaning about a good 
year for melons as though it were 
a plague, and you selling arms and 
ammunition by the ton. Why, on 
Terra or Baldur or Uller, a glass 
of our brandy brings more than 
these freighter-captains give us 
for a cask, and what do you think 
a colonist on Agramma, or Sekht, 
or Hachiman, who has to fight fo/ 
his life against savages and wild 
animals, would pay for one of 
those rifles and a thousand rounds 
of ammunition?” 



H IS father objected. “We can’t 
base the whole economy of 
a planet on brandy. Only about 
ten per cent of the arable land on 
Poictesme will grow wine-melons. 
And if we start exporting Federa- 
tion salvage the way you talk of, 
we’ll be selling pieces instead of 
job lots. We’ll net more, but—” 
“That’s just to get us started. 
The ships will be used, after that, 
to get to Tubal-Cain and Hia- 
watha and the planets of the Beta 
and Gamma Systems. What I 
want to see is the mines and fac- 
tories reopened, people employed, 
wealth being produced.” 

“And where’ll we sell what we 
produce? Remember, the mines 
closed down because there was no 
more market.” 

“No more interstellar market, 
that’s true. But there are a hun- 
dred and fifty million people on 
Poictesme. That’s a big enough 
market and a big enough labor 
force to exploit the wealth of the 
Gartner Trisystem. We can have 
prosperity for everybody on our 
own resources. Just what do we 
need that we have to get from 
outside now?” 

His father stopped again and 
sat down on the edge of a fountain 
— the same one, possibly, from 
which Conn had seen dust blowing 
as the airship had been coming 
in. 

“Conn, that’s a dangerous idea. 
That was what brought on the 



142 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



System States War. The Alliance 
planets took themselves outside 
the Federation economic orbit and 
tlie Federation crushed them.” 

Conn swore impatiently. 
“You’ve been listening to old Klem 
Zareff ranting about the Lost 
Cause and the greedy Terran rob- 
in »r barons holding the Galaxy in 
economic serfdom while they piled 
up profits. The Federation didn’t 
fight that war for profits; there 
weren’t any profits to fight for. 
They fought it because if the Sys- 
tem States had won, half of them 
would be at war among themselves 
now. Make no mistake about it, 
politically I’m all for the Federa- 
tion. But economically, I want to 
see our people exploiting their own 
resources for themselves, instead of 
grieving about lost interstellar 
t rode, and bewailing bumper crops, 
and searching for a mythical robot 
god.” 

“You think, if you can get some- 
thing like that started, that they’ll 
forget about the Brain?” his father 
asked skeptically. 

“That crowd up in Kurt Faw- 
zi’s office? Niflheim, no! They’ll 
go on hunting for the Brain as 
long as they live, and every day 
they’ll be expecting to find it to- 
morrow. That’ll keep them happy. 
But they’re all old men. The ones 
I’m interested in are the boys of 
Charley’s age. I’m going to give 
them too many real things to do 
building ships, exploring the rest 



of the Trisystem, opening mines 
and factories, producing wealth— 
for them to get caught in that 
empty old dream.” 

He looked down at the dusty 
fountain on which his father sat. 
“That ghost-dream haunts this 
graveyard. I want to give them 
living dreams that they can make 
come true.” 

i^ONN’S father sat in silence 
^ for a while, his cigar smoke 
red in the sunset. “If you can do 
all that, Conn . . . You know, I 
believe you can. I’m with you, as 
far as I can help, and we’ll have a 
talk with Charley. He’s a good 
boy, Conn, and he has a lot of in- 
fluence among the other young- 
sters.” He looked at his watch. 
“We’d better be getting along. You 
don’t want to be late for your 
own coming-home party.” 

Rodney Maxwell slid off the 
edge of the fountain to his feet, 
hitching at the gunbelt under his 
coat. Have to dig out his own gun 
and start wearing it, Conn thought. 
A man simply didn’t go around 
in public without a gun in Litch- 
field. It wasn’t decent. And he’d 
be spending a lot of time out in 
the brush, where he’d really need 
one. 

First thing in the morning, he’d 
unpack that trunk and go over 
all those maps. There were half 
a dozen spaceports and mainte- 
nance shops and shipyards within 



GRAVEYARD OF DREAMS 



143 



a half-day by airboat, none of 
which had been looted. He’d look 
them all over; that would take a 
couple of weeks. Pick the best 
shipyard and concentrate on it. 
Kurt Fawzi’d be the man to re- 
cruit labor. Professor Kellton was 
a scholar, not a scientist. He didn’t 
know beans about hyperdrive en- 
gines, but he knew how to do 
library research. 

They came to the edge of High 
Garden Terrace at the escalator, 
long motionless, its moving parts 
rusted fast, that led down to the 
Mall, and at the bottom of it was 
Senta’s, the tables under the open 
sky. 

A crowd was already gathering. 
There was Tom Brangwyn, and 
there was Kurt Fawzi and his wife, 
and Lynne. And there was Senta 
herself, fat and dumpy, in one of 
her preposterous red-and-purple 
dresses, bustling about, bubbling 
happily one moment and scream- 
ing invective at some laggard 
waiter the next. 



The dinner, Conn knew, would 
be the best he had eaten in five 
years, and afterward they would 
sit in the dim glow of Beta Gart- 
ner, sipping coffee and liqueurs, 
smoking and talking and visiting 
back and forth from one table to 
another, as they always did in the 
evenings at Senta’s. Another bit 
from Eirrarsson’s poem came 
back to him: 

We sit in the twilight, the 
shadows among, 

And we talk of the happy days 
when we were brave and 
young. 

That was for the old ones, for 
Colonel Zareff and Judge Ledue 
and Dolf Kellton, maybe even for 
Tom Brangwyn and Franz Vel- 
trin and for his father. But his 
brother Charley and the boys of 
his generation would have a future 
to talk about. And so would he, 
and Lynne Fawzi. 

— H. BEAM PIPER 



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